six months onward

I didn't write yesterday. Though I made a promise to come to this table, at this computer, every morning ... or afternoon, evening, if the day gets away from me ...  , I didn't write. I poured grace over myself and gave myself permission to turn toward something else. I didn't have to write on the six month anniversary of my son's death. 

 It doesn't really matter to me what day it is. I miss my son. It is never more or less; it simply is. The grief companion abides with me. She is sometimes closer and sometimes further away and maybe that alters my perception of her, the perspective changes whether I think she is huge or she is small. Hmmmm. Maybe she is walking a spiral around me. You know the nature of a spiral or of a labyrinth. The path takes you closer and then away and then closer and then away but always you are on the path. It is strangely comforting to think of my grief companion walking that way around me.  It feels protective. I don't want her to go away. I think it is one of the things I fear most ... that the pain will go away. I don't want to hurt anymore but more than that I don't want to not hurt. Walk on grief companion ... walk on. 

Maybe I should name her since she will be with me for a lifetime. We are becoming more and more familiar with each other so it might be appropriate to move past that formalities. If  I name her, I can welcome her more easily I think. 


The six month mark came and went. According to the calendar, that means something. I am not sure that yesterday meant anything more than any other day without him. Now we are counting forward to the year mark. There will be stops along the way but ultimately, the next big date will be August 17th. and I just don't want it to be a big date. I don't want to remember that date. I don't want to commemorate that date. Why would I want anything special to be about the day that Noah left this earth? No. I want to push past that date as if it didn't exist. 

The only date that matters to me is the day I met him ... July 20th, 1997. That was the day he came into this world. Tinged with blue, a little stressed, but within moments he was breathing fine ... we were all breathing fine ... relieved that he was here and OK. My Noah was here. I knew he was coming before he was ever conceived. We briefly considered not having any more children after the seventh. My words in the midst of that conversation, "But then I won't have my Noah." I knew he was coming. A gift, to us, to the world. Part of me wants to tell you so much about him ... and I will ... but not y et. Right now, I am gathering up all that I remember and know about him and holding it all close to my heart. These are my treasures.

this is just life. and it matters.

I slept really well last night for the first time in weeks. So well that I was late getting up this morning. I've been trying to reach for being back on schedule, give myself regular working hours, make the most of my time. I am not well practiced in managing my time well. I chase distractions like nobody's business. So it was kissing nine o clock before I woke up and made my way downstairs. 

The dining room light was one which was my first clue that something had gone on during the night. My son came around the corner and said, "Did you see the cake?" um ... there's a cake? Yes. He and his brother had stayed up all night baking and decorating a cake as their friend's bitmoji. It's brilliant. The counters are sticky and the sink is full of dishes and other stuff is everywhere ... but the cake if fucking brilliant. 

I went to make a cup of coffee but then decided to reach for writing first. This is where I want to be each morning and if I am trying to be more focused, let's start right now. While writing, my husband came downstairs to ask if I wanted to go to gentle yoga. Yes. I do. I need it and he needs it so yes, yoga it is but I want to finish this blog post. So tap ... tap ... tap ... and Swish ... I have no idea what happened. I accidentally hit just the right combination of keys and all that I had written vanished. 

Now I am just fucking irritated ... angry really. 

So up the stairs to find the clothes because we are going to yoga, damn it. Come hell or highwater, I am going to be in that class this morning. It's been a frantic week built upon other frantic weeks. The laundry that my husband so lovingly does has been piled up on the table. Then those piles have gotten thrown around as I look for this or that particular item. Then thrown onto the chair and back to the table and I've been meaning to clean out the closet and the drawers and it seems pointless to put away the clothes just to drag them out again. So ... clothes. Now I'm digging through the clothes and mumbling to myself about all of my frustrated feelings. 

Down the stairs, stomp back and forth, feeling unprepared for this day which feels like it is already rolling over me. I haven't had coffee. I haven't had food. The clock is ticking down to time to leave for yoga. My blog post disappeared into the land of deletion. The counters are sticky and stuff is everywhere but there's a brilliant cake. 

No big tragedies today. Just the pile up of little irritations. I feel completely off course. 

I went to yoga. I cried all the way through yoga. I came home made a cup of coffee, ate some yogurt and fruit, and now back to my words. Back to wrapping words around real life. 

This is it. 

This is the life beyond curated filtered photos. This life beyond proofread and edited for an audience words. This is just life. 

and it matters. This life matters. My life matters. and so does yours. 

Write it.

Share it.

Be real. 

this is who we are

I do not want to write this morning. 

How do you find the right words to say after tragedy ... after tragedy ... after tragedy? No words are sufficient. No words match the gaping wounds in the hearts of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. No words can  fill up that space for them ... or for me. 

I know the trauma of hugging my son on the steps, not knowing it is the last time I will ever hear his witty banter. I know exactly what it feels like to hear the news that he is gone and crumbling into a void of screams. I know the ongoing pain of holding life together for yourself and for the survivors. Yesterday, I lived it all over again. Just like I did a week before ... and a week before that ... and a week before that. On and on. This keeps happening. 

This morning before I had even poured coffee, before I had woke fully from a restless,  achy sleep, I tapped out words on my phone. I sent words to my Senators and my Congressman. It is an empty act but I feel like it's all I've got so I will at least do this. I wrote to them to not send me back words about protecting the second amendment. I asked them not to offer thoughts and prayers without action. I asked them to be honest. 

If we are honest, we have to stand up and say that this is who we are. Hope of doing anything differently dwindled away when we did nothing after Sandy Hook took the lives of twenty so so young students and six of their teachers. If we are honest, we have to say every time that we are a country that honors guns and moneys over lives. Put the world on notice. 

Being honest hurts. Facing who we are feels the most vulnerable of all. When we take an open-hearted look at ourselves, we must choose. Do we stay the same or do we do the work it takes to be grow, to step onto a different path. We can't make that choice until we know, until we admit, until we peek inside at what compels us forward. And what if we take that long, hard look and discover greatness? Well, that's feel vulnerable too. It takes incredible courage to face the most wonderful bits of ourselves. Sometimes it feels easier to toss around in the not-good-enough. Nothing is required of us there. But greatness? Greatness calls for something more. 

I am shifting between referring to the collective and the individual with these words but it all applies. We want to make America great then we have to do the things that greatness call for. If we want to be honest with our individual selves, then we have to own up to power we have within us. The power to be great. Step up to it. There is so much more to reach for. 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
— marianne willimson

for this year

I wear many hats. Always have. You probably do to ... for we are complicated and complex creatures. It feels like I don't have space for all the ways of me. The world has a series of chutes and tunnels, gates and locks, fences and corrals ... ways of making us narrow and less and thin. 

 

When I hear narrow your focus ... do one thing ... find your niche ... I hear, be less. And I don't know how to be less ... anymore. I used to know how to be less. I used to know how to speak quieter, how to shrink, how to fade into the background. It was required and expected that I would simply nod my head and go along because that is what the good book said. Women were to be silent. 

 

I am quite sensitive to being shushed or to feeling like my work is less important ... even though often I still feel this is true. My work doesn't pay the bills and if anything it an expense in the budget that rarely is justified monetarily.  And here I am  a day past yesterday and am I really writing about the measure of success again? It's a theme that circulates through my mind a lot. I'm not grounded ... yet. I haven't made my way to the center of me that is so true that nothing else matters. I haven't immersed myself in devotion. 

 

What would I be devoted to? Here we are again ... just one thing? How could I choose? 

Am I an artist? Am I a writer? Am I a gatherer ... mentor ... teacher? All the questions that I keep repeating to myself. 

 

My husband and I had a challenging conversation this weekend. I saw him struggling with the why of something. struggle. struggle. struggle. Finally, I said to him, "What if you didn't have to know why? What if you could make a different choice and begin there?" 

 

I think that's the answer for me. What if I don't have to know which it is ... or if its one thing or all things [ who am I kidding? We all know it's going to be ALL the things] What if I could make a choice or a different choice and begin there? What if the doing leads me to the knowing? 

 

I can do that. I did it last summer when I launched the website, not quite ready, but needing to show up because I was so over reaching for perfection, reaching for all the final details. "What if undone is complete," I asked myself. Guess what? I am still undone and I am still complete. 

 

These words are going to be here. I am committing to them for the rest of this year. Showing up, writing them, not worrying about an image or a quote or the just right title or making it pretty or perfect. Just words. My words. Because my voice matters. I don't have to be silent anymore. I don't have to shrink and be less. 

 

And maybe by choosing just the one thing, all the other parts of me can find the needed space to exist, to thrive. 

spiraling back to something simpler

spiral path 1.jpg

Yesterday and this morning, I spent some time and energy engaged with a comment thread about .... blogging. 

Is blogging dead? Is blogging making a come back? Is the community of blogging dead? Has it lots it's soul? What happened? And can we return to how it felt oh so many years ago? I wrote so many words ... back and forth comments ... and here are people longing for the connection again or for the first time. Blogging used to be wrapped up in a community; we wrote, we read, we commented. We showed up to ourselves and to each other. 

And things changed. That happens. That's reality. Things change.

The sharing happens elsewhere. The snippets and snapshots are shooting out from our fingertips ... facebook ... twitter ... instagram. It all scrolls fast and splotchy. I think I am connected but because of those pesky algorithms I miss so much of what others post. The basics of blogging became branded. Make your mark. Sell yourself. Blog for success. Find the perfect image, the perfect quote ( and I am SO guilty of that ), and the stories got lost. 

All I ever wanted to do was write my words. It all got distorted when I began to see myself as an artist, as someone who might have something to offer the world, as someone reaching past and more than raising children. How did this piece of simple showing up fit into marketing plans and five year goals and can I have a voice in all of this? 

I've ever always pushed against the norms, the shoulds, the this is the way. I am still pushing. But I hear the voices saying to me that I will never be any definition of success if I don't play the game. It feels disheartening. 

Until I pause. Until I breathe. Until I remember that I hold the measuring tape. No one else gets to define success for me. I don't play games well. I always break the rules because that's more interesting. It's not just that I don't like the rules ... I don't even like the game!

What if I created my own game? What if I invited you to play? Would you? There are no rules. All you have to do is show up. Write. Take a photo. Share what you are reading or watching. Tell me what you had for dinner because that's not over done ... sometimes I need something new for the menu. Teach me how to do something. Reach for words to wrap around what your life feels like. I want to know who you are.

That is what I want to return to, that way of blogging and seeing others and letting them know ... I see you ... I hear you ... I am here. You are there and I am here. We are together. 

I don't do so well when people tell me that something can't be done. I am ever hopeful and believing. So when I hear that blogging is dead or that it is irrelevant, I say not to that. I say that a few people circling together, writing and sharing, showing up, can create a renaissance, an awakening, a return of sorts. We don't have to go back to what was because the roads and bridges leading back may be blocked now but we can create it new again. It started before. I believe it can start again.

Let's do this. 

once upon a time | grief then and now

Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

In looking my hidden archives for a post to share today, this is the first I clicked on; The further most post written in the month of January. It is so relevant that it speaks to grief and tells the story of my seeing Finding Neverland in the theater with my daughters and how Peter Pan has one of my favorite read aloud experiences. 

My father died in November 2004. These are the words I wrote less than two months later. I had no understanding of what normal grieving looked like. I had no support system though I should have ... the church more than failed me during this time. In the timeline of my life, this is when I started pulling away, questioning. 2005 was a turning point and I think it all hinged on the moment of abandonment when my father died. 

It was evident then and now that people do not understand grief and they do not understand how to help those who are grieving. How to be present, how to listen, how to allow. My support system this time has been strong. I wouldn't dare to make a list of humans who have stepped up and stepped in because I would miss someone. I am grateful for each and every act of kindness. I am grateful too for the awareness that I have from crappy past experiences, for how I've been able to reach for help in different ways that simply were not available in 2004. 

Still though, grief is a lonely journey. Even when people are here wanting and trying to help, each one of us has our own steps to take through grief.  


Sunday thoughts

On a scale of one to ten, today was a seven. That is so much better than it has been. I have been operating in the three - four range lately. It was still difficult but there were bright spots and I am feeling encouraged. Katie and I went to church. Katie drove. She is getting more confident and I am feeling more relaxed with her driving. I predict in just a matter of weeks, she will have her license. I really didn't feel a whole lot like dancing and leading praise and worship with flags and dance today. At times like this, I just have to be obedient. I know that God inhabits the praises of His people and if I could just find the strength to enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, He would show himself mighty. True to His word, His healing balm began to flow over my painful soul.

Just before service started a lady from church stopped me to ask how I am doing. I hardly know her . . . really only know her name. She knows about Daddy's death though because it was printed in the bulletin back when it happened. I quickly spilled all of my struggles out to her. I haven't really told anyone about how I have been feeling . . . not just the sadness, that is to be expected . . . but the resentment and the anger. She assured me that this is all the grieving process. I asked her to pray specifically for Chris. I know this is difficult for him. I know that he loves me and he is probably full of bewilderment at my behavior toward him. I am just as confused though. I don't understand why I feel so much angst toward him. Ah, but today has been better.

I didn't pay close attention during the sermon. Mostly, I just did some free writing, trying to get my emotions down on the paper, trying to make sense of it all. During ministry time after the sermon, I just sat on the pew. I felt rather numb. Not in a bad way, but I just sat and observed what was going on around me. One of the youth leaders came and asked me if I was ok . . . and I just tried to smile and I nodded yes. She then said, "I miss my joyful Cyndi." ::::sigh:::: on the one hand, I am glad that I exude joy to people, I am glad I am such an encouragement to them . . . but on the other hand, I want the freedom to have down days, to feel less than joyous on occasion, to have a mood. But I know she was trying to help and I love her for it.

Katie, Amber and I went to the movies after church. We went to see Finding Neverland. It was such a great movie. I was totally drawn in from the beginning. First, Peter Pan has to be my favorite children's book and my most treasured memory of reading aloud to my children is while reading that book. This has been about 4 1/2 years ago. I was on the last chapter of the book. Peter Pan has come back to get Wendy and she is an adult now. She tells him that she can't go with him, that she is ever too old. My oldest was about 16 at the time and I realized how quickly they had all grown up. I began to cry. I could hardly read the sentences. I was sitting on the floor, trying to read, holding Logan (who was about 9 months old) in my lap and Amber (who was about 16) got up and came and sat behind me and held me from behind. I sat there, with my oldest holding me as I held my youngest and just cried and cried. So, yes, Peter Pan is my favorite.

In this movie, Peter is so literal and pragmatic. The cruelties of life have almost stolen his childhood belief, dreams and imaginations. Oh, I can relate. Here I am now, at 40 years old, and I lament the loss of my childhood, how early it was taken from me. I am trying to get it back now. Retrieve the wonder of the world, the newness of it all, the beauty in the small things. On that level, the movie pierced my heart and inspired me to breath deeply of the life I have been given. Yes. I must.

Tomorrow is my new day . . . a new list will be made . . . new pursuits, new goals, new year. I am looking forward to it all. 2004 was the year of transition. Just like transition during the labor to birth a child, it was a most difficult year. But now is the time, the time to push. It will be hard work but it will be fruitful work and in the end, a dream will be birthed. I will look deep into the eyes of my passion and fall in love. I will hold that dream and know that I will do anything to protect it, I will die, I will fight, I will live . . . just to hold onto that dream. I will not let anyone take it from me . .. it is my dream.

Ten minutes has come and gone many times. I plan to make it an early evening so that I might awaken in the morning and greet the new day, the new week, the new year.


There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
— washington irving

my lost boy

Noah Clack (25)-1.jpg

I dreamed about him last night, my Noah, our Noah, for the first time. In my dream, he was about the age he is in this photo. We were putting away groceries and he stacked his little arms high with cans of tomatoes to put into the pantry. The entire dream felt like a normal day, just doing the stuff that families do, day in and day out. But there was one moment, that I looked at him walking back and forth, so alive and I asked someone, "How is it that he is here right now, still alive?" It's like I knew that in the future he would die so how could he be alive right then? 

I'm reading a book about time travel ( Kindred by Octavia Butler) It's fiction, right? But it makes me think. It makes me think of the possibilities of how we exist in different spaces, planes, times. I've thought a lot about Noah while reading this book and what it would be like to go back, to experience it all again, the same and yet different. If I went back, I would know what would come. Just like in my dream.

The question that gets asked over and over now is "How can he be dead?" How is it possible to know and not know at the same time? Why does reality have to remind me every day that he is gone? My mind simply wants to reject what is true so it floats to thoughts that include him, that plan on him, that anticipate seeing him again and then the panic of knowing comes again. This is how grief remains the constant companion because I lose him daily, multiple times a day. 

I hate when I write that I lose him, I lost him, he is lost. Why? I think it's because I don't want to feel like I have lost him, that I can't find him. I believe I can find him. I believe he is here right now, standing watch over me as I cry and type and cry and type. And I ask myself again, why? Why do I resist saying that we lost him? He is our lost boy. He was then and he is now.

 

 

His favorite story was Peter Pan. The last thing we did together was see the musical, Finding Neverland. I was still caught in the brain fog of healing from my stroke and I struggled throughout the performance with being able to hear and comprehend. In my mind, I projected my own experience on his and wondered if he even enjoyed it. Oh, he did, saying it was his new favorite musical. (before that Phantom of the Opera ... which we have tickets to see in two weeks. Oh my heart) 

Maybe bits of today's healing are wrapped up in softening toward these terms. Allowing him to be the lost boy he was and is. 

sorting out time

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Once upon a time, a color coded calendar hung on the refrigerator. As a homeschooling mother of nine, I reached for any tool that keep our family functioning well. Meals, laundry, housecleaning, school time, play time were all carefully  scheduled into the day. It was survival and it was a way to give time to all the things and all the people. 

Until the day that I realized I was choking the very life out of us. We weren't meant to live by the clock, to the hour, to the minute. It was all about control. I was clinging to anything that would give me some sense of control in my life. I let go. I loosened my grip and I let go. We relaxed. We laughed more. And maybe I was less serious. Maybe. I've always been a serious person but I think that's a post for another day. 

As it is now, I am missing the structure of ordered days. I have so much that I want to do, that I need to do. Boxes and lists and schedules call to me. I want to lay it all out on a grid and pound myself into place. That's not the answer. That will just leave me feeling achy and bruised.

I recently wrote somewhere that my soul is beating and I am want to step in alignment to that tempo. I believe it. In the same way that I paid attention to the natural rhythms my babies settled into, I am paying attention to myself. I am  noticing where my most energy is present. I am noticing what I reach for on my good days and what I reach for on my bad days. It is all useful to know. 

Who I am is a tangled mess right now. I ask myself, almost every day, am I an artist? am I a writer? am I a woman who gathers the kindred? I feel like I need to sort all of that out so that I can sort out how to spend my time. But as I type these words, I am remembering lingering conversations with a friend on Saturday. She shared how she has been compartmentalizing herself into roles and this year she is reaching for wholeness. Hmmmm. Little messages returned to me when I need them. 

I end today's writing with no more answers than when I sat down but I am carrying forth paying attention, taking note. My soul holds the key, the way of being. It is one of ease. When you are being who you are there is no need for striving. 

Days begin and end in the dead of night. They are not shaped long, in the manner of things which lead to ends – arrow, road, man’s life on earth. They are shaped round, in the manner of things eternal and stable – sun, world, God.
— jean giono

the snow is heavy

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The snow came yesterday. Just the night before I reminisced about how magical it felt as a child to wake up in the early morning hours, pressing nose to the windows to see if it had happened, if the world had been transformed overnight. 

Here in South Carolina, snow is a rare thing. We might get one snow a year. Usually our winter storms bring coating after coating of ice instead ... which holds its own magic and its own complications. 

I don't remember playing in the snow as a child. I do remember being older and dragging huge pieces of cardboard down the street. We had two steep hills to throw ourselves upon their mercy. One year my friends and I stomped out the local news logo in the blank snow yard of an empty neighboring house. Why? I guess we knew it would garner attention and it did. I'm pretty sure they came out and took a photo or something. 

Growing up snow and ice were the key to escaping another torturous day at school. I didn't want to play in it. The whole point was that I had a day to stay at home. I loved watching from the window, mourning when people would walk across the perfect white blanket. 

In the mothering years, snow was not my friend. I always felt a surge of guilt anytime the snow would come. We were ill prepared with winter garments. It never made sense to spend our limited clothing budget on articles of clothing that might get used once a year if at all. Snow play meant piecing together the warmest we had which were never enough and certainly were not protection against the wet. In and out the children would go, while I kept watch over pots of hot chocolate and kept the dryer running in between their play sessions. My role then and now leans toward staying out of the way and creating the base to touch when needed. 

Now the children have grown to adults. A new worry settles in as the world doesn't stop, the work doesn't stop and I know they must navigate their routes along side drivers not used to winter weather and roads ill prepared by a system not equipped to deal with the snow and the ice. 

Snow looks light, should feel light but it is so very heavy. I feel that now. I sat down to write about the magical transformation of snow. One day I will believe in that again. Right now, reality is too present. I have to write what is in front of me. I will look out the window and say that the snow is beautiful but is as close as I want to be to it. It's too heavy for me to carry. 

and in that moment I swore that no thing in this universe could be so heavy as the absence of the person you love
— beau taplin