Tag Archives: sorrow

For when you don’t know what to say.

I have started, stopped, deleted, and restarted this post about 15 times. I’ve wanted to write, but my heart has felt so heavy and I just didn’t know what to say or if I should even say anything at all…not everyone wants their business put out on the internet, you know. But here it is.

The last two and a half weeks have felt like some kind of a weird whirlwind, a roller coaster, a strange dream…just insert whatever analogy you can dream up that applies to experiencing the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow in a matter of hours.

We had a beautiful Thanksgiving with family and then I went for a fun weekend of shopping in Atlanta with my sister-in-law and another friend a week after that. All of that falls into the joy category.

Then I got the text, at 7 o’clock on Sunday morning a week ago now. Call me when you get up—was all it said. Very unusual for my friend to text me at that time. I knew something was wrong.

I got up then, at 7, on the morning I was to return from my shopping trip. I called her. On the other end of the phone was my precious friend, my sister, my best friend for almost 30 years, telling me the devastating news that her sweet Daddy had passed away unexpectedly.

The sorrow.

I was dumbfounded—still am, really. Chatty girl that I am, I was at a loss for words. I did not know what to say. I sat there and wept for my friend, for her kids, for her mom, for myself and in my shock was only able to say to her, “I’m so, so sorry.” and “I love you.”

Somehow it just didn’t feel like enough. When you get news like this, there is always this inexplicable need to do something. To help carry your loved one’s grief in some way.

But do what?

In that moment, I could only try to imagine her pain and foggily try to process this information and then feebly try to convey my deep love for her and her family. But truly, all I really wanted to do was get in my car and go to her—two states away at the time—and hug her so tight. Fortunately, a couple of days later, I was able to do just that. Unfortunately, my time with her was so brief. Oh, but I am so grateful that I was able to go, even for a short time.

My heart is suddenly keenly aware of those who go through this season with sorrow and hurt and loss. You know, those things that you never really get over, but somehow learn to live with. And though I know that, as believers, we do not grieve for our loved ones as those who have no hope, grief is hard. Loss is devastatingly sad and painful. And grieving while at the same time trying to get back to the business of living can be elusive. We need each other’s help to do that. We need each other so much.

And so, when I don’t know what else to say or do, I sit, I weep, I hug, I text, I send a card. I try to make my friend smile. I wait to see if she wants to talk or cry or not talk at all.

I pray. And pray some more.

And I say “I’m so sorry” and “I love you.”

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 NASB

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Joy and Pain

“Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigour.  With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow’s hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life.”  ~Charles Dickens

I had the great joy of attending my niece’s high school graduation in North Carolina this weekend. It was great to see her celebrate her achievements with family and friends. I smiled as I saw the pride on my brother and sister-in-law’s faces while they watched their girl enter the auditorium and later take her walk across the stage. It was bittersweet for me because Jordan is the first grandchild on my side of the family to finish high school and because I began to think about next year, of course, when my Jacob will graduate. I also had the great privilege of spending time with my parents and my two grandmothers, Granny Hobbs and Grandma Nell, ages 93 and 91, respectively. It was a weekend of great joy and sorrow for me.

I realize that there are not many 42 year old women out there who are fortunate enough to still have their grandmas here on earth. Two great ladies. Each awesome in her own way. I was reminded ever too harshly of the reality of their ages this weekend. Grandma Nell had a total knee replacement last May at age 90, and was a total rock star. She lives alone and does remarkably well, considering she is almost totally blind now as a result of macular degeneration. Since December, my Granny Hobbs, who is my Dad’s mom and also lives alone and has done remarkably well, has declined rapidly.

Granny Hobbs was raised, from what I understand, by a harsh father and mother who I know very little about. In fact, she rarely speaks of it. Granny Hobbs was a single mom before it was cool. It was not by her choice—World War II deprived her son of his father, something else she rarely speaks of. When my dad was a small boy, she moved away from the town where her in-laws and family lived, and worked her butt off to keep a roof over their heads. She says moving to the beach is the best thing she ever did. She raised an amazing son and with very little outside help from one of her brothers, saw my dad graduate high school and college. In addition to my dad, she has raised countless numbers of plants and cats.

She gives away nearly everything she buys, because she thought about you when she saw it. She always has lollipops, soda, $5, or some other trinket, for her great-grandkids. Everyone who knows her calls her Granny Hobbs. Up until this summer, for the past umpteen summers, she has worked in a little beach shop down at Carolina Beach, NC, to which, she drove herself, just for some spending money. And if you ever ask her if she needs anything, she just laughs and says, “Oh, I’m alright.” And then gives you the box of muffins she bought the other day that she decided she didn’t like.

She is the one who, when I was a young girl, and her only granddaughter, insisted I say, “yes, ma’am” or else she would not respond to me further. She is the one who would call me by both my names, even if she was not mad. She is the one who would examine my chewed up fingernails and offer me a bribe if, the next time she saw me, my nails were looking, well, less chewed on. She is the one who would buy me pink dresses until I hated the color so much I refused to wear it for years. She is the one who nearly made my mom’s head pop off when she brought my brothers and me a dog…without asking Mom first. She is the one who would say to me, as a teenager (please keep in mind her generation), “You’re not dating any colored boys, are you? You need to make sure you hang on to that Clyn boy. He’s a good one!” To which I would respond (keep in mind my generation and snarky nature), “What color do you mean, Granny Hobbs?”

Suddenly now, the vibrant, fiercely independent, sharp-as-a-tack, lady I’ve known all my life is slipping away. Oh, she is still feisty. But she occasionally looks lost and loses time and place. She may not make sense and she is visibly distressed when she doesn’t recognize where she is. What makes it so hard to watch is that afterwards, when she is lucid, she realizes that she was confused before. And she hates it. She hates not being able to drive anymore. She hates having to rely on others for help. She hates that she just can’t quite reach into her brain and retrieve that word she is trying to say. And though I know aging is part of this life, I hate to see it happening to her. I hate to see how it frustrates her.

It hurts. It hurt when we watched my father-in-law slipping away and the hurt doesn’t seem less even though I’ve experienced it before.

In spite of it all, she is the one who still laughs easily, loves fiercely and gives freely. She is one awesome lady who chooses to live in the now and gives people the benefit of the doubt.Jacob and Emma with Granny Hobbs, Christmas 2010

She is also the one, who, when asked how she is doing, responds in her Southern drawl, “Oh, I’m doin’ alright. I cain’t complain. I woke up this mornin’ and didn’t see my name in the paper, so I reckon I’m purty good.”

I reckon I’ve got nothing to complain about either. Love you, Granny Hobbs.

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30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 23 or Mountain High, Valley Low

Amazing the span of emotions a person can experience in one day.  And all because of a little guinea pig.

Yesterday went from the excitement of a short school week and the anticipation of time with family for the Thanksgiving holiday to the agony of making, quite possibly, the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. Don’t worry, I will get to the “thankfuls”, because even in the lowest of valleys, there are always things to be thankful for. Always.

Zippy, our little buddyI had a sick guinea pig on my hands as we were preparing to leave town for the Thanksgiving holiday yesterday; that is, Zippy, Emma’s little friend that we got a little over 3 years ago. The thing about guinea pigs is that you don’t know they are really, really sick until they are really, really sick.  Like, on the verge of death sick. This is something I unfortunately learned yesterday. I had noticed, over the last 4 or so days, that he was not his usual energetic self. He was looking quite pitiful. Not eating much. Or drinking much. The little guy who was usually very excitedly greeting  you with his adorable little squeaking noises when you brought him a carrot was barely peeking out of his igloo.  I will spare you all the details, but looking at him, I knew it was bad. So Hubby and I ultimately decided that I should take him to the vet before we left town. Now, you can’t just take guinea pigs to any old vet. So I had to call around to find one that takes care of guinea pigs. As I explained our situation, I proceeded to break down on the phone with the girl at the vet’s office. Have I mentioned that I am a crier?

After she had examined him, the vet informed me that it was indeed very bad. Using words like, grave condition, edge of death, maybe 40% chance, no guarantees, and—you have a decision to make.

A decision. A decision—the likes of which I had never faced before.

Meanwhile, I looked at Zippy, who was struggling to breathe and barely able to hold his head up. His suffering was obvious. I saw the estimate the vet prepared for hospitalizing our precious pet and trying to nurse him, with little hope for recovery. It was steep. I spoke to Clyn on the phone about what we should do. Did I mention we were trying to leave town?

I found myself faced with putting a price tag of the value of our little furry family member. Was his life less valuable than any other? This seemed like some sort of cruel trick. Surreal. One of those, “who gets to stay in the lifeboat” problems.  And we all know, those problems have no right answers. No answers that you feel good about giving.

I was on my second box of Kleenex and, quite frankly, gob smacked. How could I make this decision without talking to Emma, who was still at school? On the other hand, how could I talk to Emma about making this decision any way? It is not a decision that a child should make. It is not a decision that anyone should have to make. Ever.

I felt very, very alone, in spite of the very kind veterinary staff. They couldn’t help me make this terrible choice. I was honestly caught off guard at the strong and uncontrollable emotions I was feeling about this little rodent, about whom I had said only the day before that I wasn’t going to take him to the vet. Yet, there I was. And there he was. And looming between us was life and death. And it was on me.

With Clyn’s agreement, I signed a paper.  The only thing I remember seeing on the paper was “this decision is irreversible.”

Irreversible.

Like Zippy’s illness. And like his death; a death which he didn’t even know was coming.

“We’ll let you spend some time with him.”

I held him and stroked his little nose like he always liked. I told him he was a good little buddy. I told him to rest easy. They took him away.

And then he was gone. Just. like. that.

Clyn told Emma when he picked her up from school about Zippy. She was so, so sad, but she didn’t say much. She just cried. And cried. And so did I.

I brought him home and Clyn made a little spot for him in the back yard. Our family of four gathered around and we said a few words. Emma made a cross out of some wood in our garage to mark his grave. Then she wrote on it in green sharpie:

♥Zippy♥

June 21, 2008 – November 22, 2011

I have to tell myself I made the right choice for Zippy. But I still have the nagging guilt of “what else could I have done?” I know it was what needed to be done, but that doesn’t make it feel any better right now.

And yet, God is still God and He is still good and I was not alone in making that awful choice and I am thankful.

  • For 3 years of enjoying a sweet little pet.
  • For extremely kind and compassionate care, for both Zippy and me, from the veterinary staff, delivered without judgment.
  • For a quick and painless end to Zippy’s suffering.
  • For the comfort offered by friends and family, which was so welcome after such a day.
  • For laughter and time today with my parents and brothers and sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews, which is truly medicine for us.
  • For Emma getting to spend time with her cousin, Victoria, which is fun for her and a welcome distraction.

Maybe you say, “ he was just a guinea pig, I don’t see what you’re so wrecked about.”

Well, he was our little guinea pig. Our Little Buddy. And we loved him.

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