Tag Archives: grief

in which themes really aren’t my thing

Every October, they pop up. The lovely 31-dayers, with their beautiful words and their respectable consistency, and I think of joining them. Every year, I want to put a few small words out there, give them wings to take up residence beside the words of the ones I would consider great writers.

But every year, I get stuck on the same thing. The whole idea of a theme. I’ve never been very good with themes. Too many things are too terribly interesting and important to me. Which sometimes feels like a lack of focus, mostly because sometimes it is.

This year is more of the same. I’ve tossed around at least ten different themes in the past couple of weeks, and they all hit the walls of my soul and slide off. Nothing sticks, nothing clings to my insides, my ribcage.

But oh, how I want to write these days. I feel all of the things inside of me, scratching and clawing to get out. And if the only thing stopping me from challenging myself to write every day for a month straight is the lack of a theme…well, that’s just silly.

So I, personally, am considering my theme “31 Days of who-the-hell-knows-what.”

It’s slightly less poetic than “31 Days to Listen” or “31 Days to Dream” or “31 Coffee Dates in 31 Days.”

Slightly less poetic, but far more true to where and who I am in this moment.

Because too many things are rattling around these days to pick just one. Maybe that’s why I need to write so much these days. Maybe that’s why I spent half my drive to work yesterday teary-eyed because I just wanted the space to crawl into a quiet part of my soul and put the rest, the part that’s not at all quiet, on paper.

Too many things are too important and too heavy and too possible and too never-gonna-happen and too unknown.

Too much of life is who-the-hell-knows-what.

And so I will write from there, from that place.

It may not be pretty, but it will be honest. And I’m sure it will look a little like healing, in that way that only the ugly, honest things can be.

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because you can give life without giving birth

Hey, love.

Come on over. I’m curled up in a king-sized bed, with a tiny puppy who loves to snuggle, and there’s plenty of space for you. I have coffee. Granted, I’ve never actually MADE a cup of coffee in my life, so it’s from the coffee shop and I only have one cup, but I’m great at sharing.

Today is hard. It really is. I skipped church because, honestly, it’s easier to spend my morning grocery shopping and cooking and snuggling with my little furball than it is to go today. Because in a church full of families, my love and I are literally the only ones in the married-no-kids stage of life. And it’s not for lack of desire, or lack of trying. Three solid years of desire and trying, and nothing. We’ve been in the infertility category for two years now, and it weighs heavy on Mother’s Day. And I just can’t do it today. I can’t make myself go.

Is this an okay place for complete honesty? I started my period yesterday, and it sucks. It doesn’t always suck. Some months, it comes and goes without much fanfare or feeling, but this is not that month. This is the other kind of month, the one that finds me sitting in the floor of my shower on a Saturday night, sobbing and swearing and hurt and angry. And I’m a lucky lady, with a gentle and kind husband who meets me there, on the floor of the shower, and holds me while I cry. I don’t take for granted the abundance of my blessings.

But I can’t go to church today.

And I guess what I want to say is that it’s okay if you can’t either. You can come here, and curl up with me in my cozy bed, and I will hold your hand and we will have church over coffee and conversation.

And I will tell you something important. And it won’t fix anything. It won’t make the grief process easy. It won’t always make you feel better when you’re in a crowded room of mothers being asked to stand and be celebrated. But it’s true, and it’s a healing thread in a heart that feels like it’s breaking month after month after month.

You may never give birth. But giving birth isn’t a prerequisite to giving life. Your body might never stitch together a human being inside its dark corners, but you were BORN to create. To stitch together. To mend. To nurture. To raise up. To restore. To give life to people and things and places.

I’m learning, and the learning is oh-so-slow and oh-so-painful, but I’m learning that I am here to stitch together, into being, things that are not yet. Sometimes those broken things are fragmented thoughts that I stitch together into words, into music. Sometimes those broken things are people’s hearts, that I’m here to stitch together with love and compassion and grace.

And maybe some day, I’ll stitch together a person.

And maybe you will too.

But even if we don’t, we’re here for a reason, and we should do something about it. It’s easier together, so I want to hold your hand and cheer you on while you’re doing your thing. And I want you to hold my hand and cheer me on while I’m doing mine. Sometimes I might need you to push me, and remind me that my thing is beautiful and necessary and life-giving. And I’ll try to do the same for you.

Your thing is beautiful and necessary and life-giving. Even if it’s not motherhood, it’s beautiful and necessary and life-giving and you’ve just got to keep doing it.

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the guitar and the beauty

Sometimes I wish I could go back to it and appreciate it more.

I keep thinking about it this week, about how he was always there on Christmas Eve and this year he won’t be.  And it’s not the first Christmas Eve he’ll be missing, but it’ll be the first one he’ll be missing while I’ll be there.  And it’s silly, but I just want to hear him play the guitar from that chair in the corner of my grandma’s tiny mobile home again, because I remember it being the one predictable and steady thing.  Christmas Eve at the Spain house is a lot of things.  It can be a room full of laughter and chatter and affection and good-natured teasing.  Two minutes later, it gives way to a swirling mass of politics and religion and small town gossip and highly opinionated people and irrationally loud voices.  Needless to say, the whole thing can be a little disorienting.

And then he’d bring out the guitar and the beauty.  And everyone else would pull out their instrument, sometimes a mandolin, maybe a banjo, always some more guitars, throw in a little piano for good measure.

He was the guy who taught me that music was peace in time of war.  That beauty could bring people together, even people who are more strongly connected to their opinions than most anything else.  He never said it with words, he just did it with his life.  And he wasn’t an artist type, by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.  He was a farmer, a hard worker, a man’s man.  Built tall and strong, calloused hands, leathery skin.  Flannel shirts, worn out jeans, my grandma’s sparkling blue eyes.  Not a politically correct bone in that man’s body.  Head strong, opinionated.  A Spain man to the core, rough and tumble, fight for what you believe in whether you’re right or wrong, live and die for the people you love.

That man was an artist in an unlikely package.  I think about him every time life falls apart and my first instinct is to run to my piano, pick up my guitar, sing it out loud.  I think about him every time I remember that music and art and beauty replace chaos with peace, every time.

I miss that man.  Not much I wouldn’t give to hear him call me SkinnyMini one more time.  But life and death are life and death, and there’s no stopping them.  And so when I miss him, when a world without him feels like chaos and brokenness and a puzzle missing some of its pieces, I do what he would have done.

I bring out the guitar and the beauty.

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