Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Back to our regularly scheduled program

Slowly, very slowly, I am slogging my way through the grief process and trying to resurrect something that resembles my "normal" life. I do, sadly, have one more funeral to attend this week (the 16 year old son of a friend and fellow board member of our local community group passed away the other day), but I am so numb at this point to loss that it has wierdly become a "normal" thing to attend funerals lately. Not that I do not feel sadness for each of these losses; more so that they have all swirled together into one gigantic event so that it is hard to differentiate who I am mourning at any given daily experience of grief. Sometimes it is my own grief over the immediate losses (Fran and Jim); other times it is my grief for friends who have lost (D, J, and now K in the loss of her son/N in the loss of her older brother).

Anyway, as the post title says "Back to our regularly scheduled program." In my attempt to "fake it till you make it" in regards to a normal life, I have, finally, after a few months of ignoring the project all together, tackled the baby's room. My wonderful niece, A, stayed over recently and we spent the day putting the room together (earlier A's younger brother, also an "A" name, put the crib together, but that was the sum total of what I have done in the room since we moved here). There are still a few things left to be done - hang the pictures on the wall, for example- but for the most part it is looking pretty darn good.

The problem I have encountered is this- the new room is much larger than the room we had in our previous home. Hence, we have a lot more open space. Now, one could argue that open space is nice and does not demand that we fill it up with more stuff. However, I have a compulsive need to fill up open space, so I find myself thinking of things we do not have in that room that we might could NEED in that room, now that we have more space.

I have come up with 2 things that I have convinced myself that are must haves for the baby's room:

1. toy box (now we have a cheapo wooden toy box in there right now, but it must go. for one thing, it is ugly. for another thing, well, it is ugly)

2. book case

I am wavering between purchasing a sturdy plastic "Little Tykes" style toy box (say Thomas the Tank Engine, or something along those lines- primary colors to match the "moon doggie" crib bedding set and accessories we allready have), or a classic wooden toy box painted primary colors to match the rest of the room.

As for the bookcase, I am debating between a classic wooden bookcase painted primary colors (again, to match the rest of the room), or one of those wooden/canvas type book holders (commonly seen in preschool class rooms).

So, my question to those of you out there with much better decorating skills than I is this: what have you used for toy storage and book storage in your baby (ies) rooms?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sad News

I had hoped that after my last post, I would come back to my blog with adoption related "good news" to report: moving up on the referral list, say, or at the very least news that new referrals are expected soon. Unfortunately, I have no such news to share.

It is with great sadness that I come to you, my readers, requesting further prayers and well wishes for my friend J, whose mother in law passed away Saturday afternoon, and my best friend, D, whose mother lost her battle with cancer Saturday evening.

J's mother-in-law's funeral will be out of state, but I will be attending D's mother's funeral this afternoon.

While both J and D are very dear friends of mine; D is especially close to my heart. D and I have been friends for many years now, having met while we were both students at the local university. Our friendship remained strong despite my move to Alabama, and her more recent move to Texas to work on her Ph.D. D was there for me in many big ways when my father lost his own battle against cancer in August of 2004- graciously staying at my parents' home to take care of their cat and my two dogs so that I could be at the hospital during my father's last days.

I am heartbroken for D; I will never forget her phone call a few weeks ago when she told me that the cancer was back and her mother had only a few weeks to live. "I thought I understood what you were going through when your dad died, but I had no idea. I never wanted to be a member of this club with you"

Oh D, honey, I never wanted you to be a member of this club either. I hope that someday you will find comfort in the knowledge that you were, and are, an amazing daugther and an extraordinary young woman that your mother, indeed both of your parents, found great pleasure and comfort in you. I cannot take your pain away, but I can, and will, walk beside you in this most difficult journey of grief and loss.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Yet Even at the Grave We Make Our Song: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

This has been an devastating time for us and for our faith community. On Thursday, May 31st, our dear friend and the matriarch of our congregation, 91 year old Fran, died from a head injury resulting from a fall at her home. Darling Fran, everyone one who met you loved and admired you. Your strength, your faith, your poets soul- I will never forget you. One of the greatest honors of my life was to be a pallbearer at your funeral. Did you hear the bagpiper on that day? Amazing Grace, indeed.

On Sunday, June 3rd, our little congregation held a special service in honor of Fran and her many years of service to the Church. We were all hurting, but managed to find in our grief an equal level of joy for the gift and blessing that Fran was to all of us.

That afternoon we received a phone call that drove us to our knees, literally and figuratively. Our beloved friend, missioner, and the Bishop of Northern Michigan, Jim Kelsey, was driving home from a congregational visit in the eastern U.P. and was killed in a terrible car accident.

Words cannot express the depth and width of the grief that engulfs Jim's family, friends, and colleagues in the Episcopal Church- both within this diocese, across the nation, and in the world-wide Anglican Communion.

"The Episcopal Church has today lost one of its bright lights," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said. "We will be less without the easy grace of Bishop James Kelsey -- Jim to most of us -- and we shall miss his humor, insight, and passion for the ministry of all. He gave us much. We pray for the repose of his soul, and for his family. We pray also for the Diocese of Northern Michigan. All of us have lost a friend. May he rest in peace and rise in glory."

I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the following article by Episcopal Life Online reporter Herb Gunn, "The heart of ministry: the life and death of Jim Kelsey" :

God's peace, Jim. We have been so richly blessed to know and love you. My heart is broken: to me, you were a father, a brother, a spiritual advisor, a friend, and a teacher. Your memorial was such a celebration of your life and ministry! Even though, as Fran said, we carry on with broken hearts, we hold within our hearts and our memories your extraordinary example of faithfulness, unconditional love, and passion for justice. Do you know how many people gathered together to celebrate your life? Each and everyone of them adore you and aspire to live as faithfully and lovingly as you did with such "easy grace."

*above photos are: 1. Jim with his darling puppy, Juniper. photo is credited to Brother Jacob: 2. Jim and myself signing a document, the day Jim brought the Franscican brothers to our house to spend time with our congregation's ministry support team. 2. our beloved Fran sitting on our couch with one of the brothers. 3. Jim Kelsey and the Franciscans posing for a photo in our living room.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A's Graduation

My niece, A, graduated high school last night. I can hardly believe this is possible, wasn't it only yesterday that I, myself, was at the very same high school, telling everyone about her birth? Surely it wasn't that long ago that she and her kindergarten class, all decked out in halloween costumes, made their way through my high school math class, eyes as big as saucers, seeing all the 'big kids' and grinning like a cheshire cat when I handed her a few pieces of candy when she came by my desk. So how was it that last night I found my self sitting in *my* high school, watching her receive her diploma?

A was *my* first baby; I was fifteen when she was born. She was the lucky one who was the test baby for me- with A I learned how wonderful babies are, what joy there is in watching a baby learn to talk, walk, and sing Barney songs (well, ok, I am not all that fond of Barney songs, but still, she was cute when she would sing the "I love you" song at the end of the Barney show, bursting into tears and waving at the screen "bye bye Barney!"). And what a little social butterfly she was! Everyone she met was a friend; inviting complete strangers to come to her house for coffee. My friend, J, never tires of telling the story of the time she and I went to see my sister and A and, upon getting out of the car, three year old A came running out of the house shouting: "Jen, I Love your Hair! Who does it?"

So many wonderful memories. A beautiful, gregarious, charming little girl has become a beautiful, gregarious, charming woman. The little girl who used to sing and dance to Barney became the young girl who cheered for her (and mine, and her mother's, and her father's-talk about life in a small town) high school; this fall she will be a cheerleader at the university. From Barney to the Junior Patriots to the WHS Patriots, to the NMU Wildcats.

Truth be told, I hated cheerleaders when I was in school. I have A to thank for knocking down my "cheerleader prejudice" and showing me that not all cheerleaders are snobby you-know-whats, and that cheerleading is a real sport.

A had her graduation party last weekend, and I could not get over how grown up she has become. Still the social butterfly, she greeted everyone who came to the door, her infectious laugh filling the room as she and her friends teased each other and made plans for the big, not the rest of their lives, but the more important things- whose party is when, who is going with who, and the all important "are you going to the all night graduation party after graduation thursday night?"

The only difficult part of A's party was running into old classmates of mine who showed up with their babies and toddlers and elementary school kids in tow. Ouch. Jealousy reared its ugly head, threatening to turn on the tears when one of A's guests arrived with her twin 7 month old baby boys.

I came very close to ruining A's party by grabbing those twin boys and running for the Canadian border!

Still, baby blues aside, it was a great party for a great woman.

Happy Graduation BeeBoo! I hope that when your uncle and I finally bring our baby (ies?) home, you will have time in your busy new life as a college student to spend time with us....I want so much for my children to experience the joy and happiness that you bring to this world.