Monday, January 5, 2015

what 2014 taught me...

dear twenty-fourteen,

a year of duplicity...days slowly pass like a gnarled icicle dripping in mid-afternoon sunlight while the months sweep by faster than the waters tumbling over niagara falls into lake ontario.

i begged you to be gentle on me at the beginning of the year and if i am painfully honest, by that i meant for you to end this extended season of waiting. waiting for peter to let go. waiting for God to ultimately heal my husband in heaven.  waiting.waiting.waiting to close this chapter and move on to the next. but in this pause you have taught me valuable lessons which will lose their luster with the passage of time so giving them some space to live & breathe seems important.

lessons you have taught me are:

1.  dying is not easy or for the faint of heart.  with brittany maynard in the headlines this fall and a legion of strong opinions regarding her "dying with dignity", she exposed the topic of death and the role we may want to plan in choosing our own path if faced with a terminal illness.  with peter being on hospice & watching life slowly draining out of him, i struggle. in all the controversy of her death, i realize as a wife of someone who is terminally ill, what i need most in the depths of loss is warmth & kindness, love & mildness. opinions can be rough and jagged, like a volcanic pumice, chaffing my tender, vulnerable emotions.

2.  animals are good for my soul.  a new pup, some chickens and one fat porker greatly nourish my heart.  of course they are work & stretch my patience & create lots of poop; but each of them yearns for my attention. even chickens seem to know i am the hand that feeds them and have individual personalities that just make me giggle.  dr. hugh ross spoke at our church this past year about how different animals are "soulish" or have the ability to form emotional attachments, not just with their own species, but also with humans.  rex, "the girls" and napoleon are all deeply soulish animals and help fill some of the cracks peter left behind.

3.  our world is fast-pace, but finding stillness is fundamental.  information is communicated instantly now with all of the technology we possess.  finding a calm, quiet moment to assess if i have all of the essential information to form a sound decision is difficult for me. when i find my emotions have reached the peak of a mountain, my gut reaction is to immediately deal with the issue.  often this hasn't allowed me any space to sort through the commotion stirred in my heart.  i have learned the importance of stopping. breathing. praying. moving away from the emotional epicenter.  this takes both discipline and courage.  the pace at which we live our lives is a choice we often forget we have.

lessons you failed to teach me this year are:

1.  how do i teach my son, who is black, about race?  yes, we live a great distance from new york city and ferguson, but i would be foolish to believe prejudice doesn't cross state lines.  i have always seen his skin as brown and beautiful, something i envy next to my light-skinned complexion which burns so in our southern california sun.  he brags of his chestnut tanned skin while i seek the shade of our beach umbrella.  but our boundaries are far greater than the shade of my umbrella.  how do i teach him some of those who are the very same color as his mother despise those of his color?

2.  why is the #1 FAQ about dementia always, does peter remember/recognize you?  often it's followed by, does he call you by name?  does he express missing you?  those questions, like the tentacles of a jelly fish, challenging to see in the hazy ocean of emotions, leaves behind a prickly, burning pain.  his mind long ago discarded so many skills-shaving his face, signing his name, reading the morning paper-all of which have been a part of his life far longer than my presence.  i attempt to assure myself that his heart remembers, but as of late i am wondering if that's even true.  how do i gracefully ask why this question begs to be answered? is this how we measure sickness? love? humanity?

and finally 2014, you closed leaving me in if WONDERFUL.  plans had been made for a few months on the perfect proposal.  our son had coordinated every detail .  but come new year's eve morning, God had a more perfect plan.  snow blanketed our town. there were still flurries when my alarm sounded.  instead of running, i woke all of my children to alert them of the most amazing snowstorm.  am & i convinced scoot to propose right then, in the falling snow.  you see, his now fiancĂ©, loves the snow.  it reminds her of her childhood & skiing with her mom, and as much as he planned their day and evening, God had outdone him.  it's a lesson i will carry with me into 2015. i can orchestrate & calculate, but setting my agenda aside and following the will of the Lord is always more beautiful.  and here is the beautiful couple just moments after she said, "YES!"

and our local paper featured them!  here's the link if you are interested.  

thanks for the grandest finale 2014! watch out 2015, i'm coming after you.



  1. I'm thankful for the things God taught you in 2014, and I pray that He leads you faithfully into those things left unanswered for 2015.

  2. Beautiful post Chris and I believe you do find the quiet times for thought and discernment! You really know who you are and have a pretty good grasp of your reality, finding joy despite the pain of Peter's illness. The way you parent and love Jeremiah will hopefully protect his heart if the ugliness and ignorance of others infiltrate his mind. We must believe that the goodness and love of God is the win, right?
    Love reading your posts and youđź’—