Monday, November 2, 2015

Needs, Wishes and Regrets

Today I am pensive.
Messy on the inside.
Days like today make me reflective.
Just last Friday, I heard a grief expert discuss "Grief overload".
Surely Central Arkansas is nearing that point. 
So many young people and adults gone too soon.

1.  Never worry that there is too much food, paper products, soft drinks and snacks.  There may seems to be too much,..but trust me,..they will come in handy in the coming months.   I did not have to buy Kleenex for 2 years and every time I went to my stash, encouraged me all over again.

2.  Someone may need to step in and manage the kitchen.  I'm sure that family members are doing it fine.  I thought so too,..until I  saw my sister-in-law Susan quietly sobbing at my kitchen sink.  It finally occurred to me that she needed to be comforted instead of "working".   My BFF and her family came in on the 3rd day and flat took over.  Thank goodness.

3.  Get Addresses.  Right now,..someone start writing them down.   Not just listing the gifts, visits and calls,..but get addresses.   

4.  I am grateful that I went all by myself into the funeral home and had quiet time with Jae Lynn. 
Just me and her. 
The funeral director guarded the door so I would not be disturbed.  
Regret:  I  sorely regret not encouraging my family members to do the same. 
For some odd reason, I worried that people would think it bizarre.

5.  Someone consider videoing the impromptu meetings, prayer vigils and speeches.  The family misses much of those meaningful tributes. 

6.  I hope that there are journals,..big ones, each home for friends and family to write in.  Those 3 big books full of heartfelt letters during the tenderness of pain are some of my most prized possessions.

7.  Write a note or card.  It's perfectly fine to express your thoughts or share a memory even if you do not know the family.  Don't just sign a card,..write a little something!

8.  I am grateful my family spoke at the funeral.  I am amazed that we did it, but I had been recently inspired by Dr. Lindy Bollen when he delivered an amazing tribute at his son Kyle's visitation 4 months earlier. 
Regret:  that we did not bounce the preacher and instead fill her service with tributes, poetry, memories or songs from family members and friends. 

9.  Us adults are pretty good at demonstrations and expressions of sympathy and support, but teenagers and children?...Not so much.  Encourage your teens to educate themselves on how to assist the surviving siblings.  Their current friend- skill- set will not be enough.

10.   If you feel helpless right now, me,..TrustMe.   There is plenty of time for you to provide meaningful support. 
As in the next 20-30 years.
The specific actions of love poured onto the hurting family during the immediate aftermath may or may not be remembered. 
However,..the cumulative feeling of love and support will never be forgotten.

Friday, October 2, 2015

In His Time

Tomorrow,..this weekend, is Jae Lynn's birthday.
I celebrate the day she was born and placed into our home!  

28 years ago, my daddy asked me to sing the Sunday night special for our evening worship services.  The song I had been practicing for a couple of weeks in preparation for the solo was a song entitled "In His Time".  It was a beautiful short little song which spoke to the theology that God makes everything beautiful in His time,..not necessarily our time.
However,..that particular Sunday night found me a hot mess.  For you see, at a hospital nursery, 20 miles away was a tiny baby girl who had been abandoned at birth with the understanding that she would be placed for adoption.
With Ralph and I.

Our hospital administration, however,..was making plans to make this tiny baby a ward of the state of Arkansas as soon as all government offices opened up the very next morning.

Ralph and I had chosen to not share the baby's birth with anyone, so daddy had no idea of why I was tearful and refused to sing the song on that Sunday night. 
I recall him being a tad irritated with me.
But he did not see the Epic internal emotional turmoil.
To sing of everything being beautiful in God's time was not something I was prepared to sing,..for I was terrified that God's timing would send this child into state cusotdy and I would be sent home with empty arms.

An earthly showdown of an utter lack of Faith.
I own it.

The NEXT Sunday, however,..found me belting out the song with gusto, I shared with my church family how God's timing was perfect.  The pain and confusion of our years of  infertility had turned into a celebration of God's unusual method of blessing.
Jae Lynn entered into our home within hours of her birth and I was forever changed.

So Now.
The Song In His Time continues to be a song with significant meaning to me.
I don't/won't sing it anymore, not because I don't believe God's timing is perfect,.... But mostly just
I can take issue with God's timing, even as I place my total trust in Him.
The epic internal emotional turmoil returns on days like October 3rd.
Celebration.  Regrets.  Confusion.  Confidence.
Life.  Death.  Birthday dinners.  Graveyards.

Most people who read that group of words above would, more than likely, focus on the hard ones.  But I,.. Jae Lynn's momma,.. live among them all quite easily now. 
This weekend, I plan to laugh, sing, remember, be filled with love and celebrate the life of Jae Lynn Russell.