Friday, March 16, 2012

Peace that passes understanding

Most days I leave my grief right here. Whether I publish it or just save it for myself, typing out my words enables me to go about my daily life as though I didn't have my heart ripped in half on February 6, 2012.

To the outside world, I appear no more strange than I usually do.

Monday was different. Monday was Circle day. It's the first women's Bible study I have been a part of that Susan wasn't also attending, and often, I would call her on Monday afternoons and we would talk about what had been discussed that morning. Sometimes, I would take notes and send her an email with some verses that made me think of her or something someone said that I thought would be meaningful to her.

Monday was different. Monday was Circle day, and I wouldn't be sharing any of what we discussed with Susan that afternoon. Maybe that is why I was particularly raw that day.

Maybe I was raw because I feel safe among those women.

Maybe I was raw because in reality, it still hasn't been that long since she died.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
     Matthew 5:9

We started out by talking about what having peace means.

Susan and I had this conversation many many times. What does it mean to have peace when you are a young mother with terminal cancer? How is it possible to find peace when you know you are being robbed of decades you expected to spend with the people you love?

I couldn't help myself, and by the end of the lesson, I found myself in the bathroom sobbing. I'm not a public crier. It's not something I'm usually comfortable with. But among the women in this group, the ones who found me and knew what was going on, I could cry.

It felt safe. And it felt necessary. It was almost as if I needed to say to some part of my everyday life, 

"It's still not okay. I'm still not alright with this. The peace I can make with recent events is fragile and has to be rebuilt daily. Be gentle, world. It still hurts."

And they let me do that. I'm so grateful.

Susan loathed for anyone to say that a person "lost their battle with cancer." She absolutely and completely hated those words.

This week, as I've thought about peace and Susan, it has occurred to me that to use the words "fight" and "battle" are altogether appropriate, but the idea that cancer "won" is not.

Cancer didn't win anymore than Susan lost. That cancer that was living in Susan? That bitch is just as dead as she is. 

Susan is, however, at peace. There is no more fighting. There is no more anger. There is no more fear. There is no more pain. There is no more sickness.

She has peace. 

She accepted God's will in her life. She fought for as long and as hard as she physically could, and then she made peace.

There is a big difference between losing a battle and making peace with your life.

Friday, March 09, 2012

January 11, 2011


I don't usually know what to say,
But I always will know how to listen.

I don't know the answers to your questions,
But I will search for you and validate your need to ask.

I won't blow anymore sunshine.
I won't hold back anymore tears.

Because you need to know these things:     
     I know the time will come.   
     I trust your strength.     
     I believe in your family.

And this is also true:     
     I ache with you.    
     We support each other, and we both hurt.     
     We are both angry.     
     We are both scared.     
     Neither of us needs to apologize for it.

Do you know that it is so hard to give to someone like you?     

I want to give everything I can to you, but you - you are always         
     Arms outstretched         
     Searching the crowd         
     Ready to teach, to give, to share.

It's hard to catch you without your arms open to give.
It's hard not to take from you all the time.

That, by the way, was a compliment.

I am the woman who will play it straight with you.     
No more sugar coating from me, I promise.

I am the girl with whom you always played straight.     
     There will never be pompous bags of sand with lit candles in front of my home. In your honor.

You are my favorite one.
The one who restored my faith in lasting friendships, time and time again.

I will stand as strong as I can for you.
Following your example of what a friend really is.

We will be always friends.

Monday, March 05, 2012

One month

Dear Susan,

Suddenly, February is over, and I'm back at the Presbyterian Women Coordinating Team meeting this morning. The first Monday of every month. The last one was the meeting I was in when Curt called to tell me that you had passed.

Now it begins. The time in my life when I do things without you.

February was just a jumble of days in which I wished you back to this earth with every breath I had.

March has to be the time when I start to move forward again.

The time I spent at home wasn't healing like I hoped it would be, but it was enlightening. I feel like I know what I want my path to be now. I know what I want for myself and my family.

Thanks to you, I also know that I can do it.

While I was in Mississippi, there were four planets visible in the night sky. I grabbed my daddy's binoculars one night and headed outside. Momma lives in the country now, so I thought it would be a great view. It wasn't. It was cloudy every night I was there.

What a metaphor for us and our home state.

I think of things like this - things that I want to tell you - and I tell them to you anyway. People have told me to still talk to you. That you are still with me. I'm starting to figure out what they mean by that.

I miss you, Susan. I miss you every damn day. But I know what I'm going to do without you now. I have plans, plans that you helped me make - plans that I know you are proud of me making.

I will be better. I promise. And I will find a way to make sure you are always with me.