In the quiet of the early morning, before the house smells like turkey and dressing, before the candles are lit and I’ve put on my party dress, before family and beloved guests arrive and take their first sip of Erin’s delicious punch, I have this moment of reflection on a year like none other.
In this year marked by deep sorrow, there are many blessings.
One: My father is demonstrating to me and all those around him what resilience looks like. “I’m enthused about life,” he tells me. “When I stop being enthused about life, I’ll sit in my chair and that will be it.” We talk often. I’ll be seeing him next week in Minnesota. We’ll be celebrating his 90th birthday in January. He still has his tears and his despair over the loss of his beloved. Kleenex boxes are essential but his spirit is not defeated.
Two: Through grief I am learning so much. I can’t put it in words yet, I’m just riding the ride. I often turn to John O’Donohue, author of To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings. The first stanza of his poem, For Grief goes like this:
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.
He’s a mighty wise man to capture those feelings so precisely! This book has been a companion for many years but this year, it really got a workout. I’ve gifted it many times and not because of how well he writes about loss and suffering, but also about how beautifully he writes about states of heart, callings, desires, beginnings, and thresholds. This evening I will ask my twin brother to read the poem Grace Before Meals.
Reading the works of others, particularly in memoirs, has been a new way for me to explore life this year. I’m grateful for the courage and dedication of those authors who write so that we all may benefit.
Three: Being a part of my clients’ lives, creating beauty and order, helping them with the activities in their lives, manipulating clothing, style, accessories and color to make the perfect matches for their personalities and the places they need to go continues to be my joy and my refuge. It’s my sweet spot. I’m so grateful for these experiences and the trust my clients have instilled in me.
When the worst thing happened–the sudden death of my youngest brother, something I still struggle to accept–in my grief I wondered aloud to my mother if what I was doing really mattered in the world. “Brenda, you are doing exactly what you are meant to be doing. Look at your life! You have helped so many people. Oh, darling, never doubt that,” she said.
Five months later, she passed. I am so grateful she told me what she did because now, when doubt arises as it naturally will, her words hold me up when I feel like I’m going to crumple. Her faith in me was resolute. More and more I need to find that leaning post within me. I know it’s here. My genealogy tells me so.
Four: I’ve identified four daily activities that help me strengthen my personal well being. I try to fit one, two or more of them into each day. They are: walking, meditating, writing morning pages, reading. And in a perfect week, I have a couple of hours to myself to let my mind wander and to write about things that are in my heart. Oh, and one more thing! I am growing a habit of moisturizing my face twice a day. Hey, sometimes it’s the little things that keep us anchored when the ground we’re standing on seems to sway beneath us!
Five: I am blessed with my family members and blessed with good friends. I am blessed with strength and a body that supports me to do the things I want to do. I am truly blessed to be here to partake in the mystery and majesty of life where I feel like a beginner.
I wish for many things. I wish for peace in the world, respect for our natural resources, and of course, I wish for rain in California. I wish for comfort for those facing loss or trauma in their lives. I wish for awakenings to the light that life offers.
And I wish for you blessings that I suspect may come in all different packages on this day of Thanksgiving. I heart you!!