Live for the Moments

Live for the moments you can’t put into words. This sounds like a beautiful sentiment.

But what if you are feeling sadness? Do you want to live for those moments?

DO YOU AVOID YOUR GRIEF?

I’ll be the first to admit l have avoided grief. But this time, I’ve arranged a trip whose theme is grief.

I drove over 700 miles from my home in North Carolina to the Airbnb I’d reserved. My dog, Sugar, is with me. I like to blame her for all my stops, but it’s my fault. And I made a lot in the early hours of the trip. Then as I crossed the Florida state border, I became anxious to arrive before dark. So, I stopped less. The thought of driving through the traffic jams in Orlando spurred me on.

Alas, Waze still had to route me around town via SR 429, also known as the Western Beltway. This part of the beltway was in the planning stages during my twenty-three years living in West Orange County. Being a country girl, I was not excited about the inevitable development and influx of people the beltway would bring.

AN UNEXPECTED GRIEF TRIGGER

Tears welled as I drove through yet another highway construction project amid high-density housing projects as far as the eye can see.

This is not a moment I want to live for.

But it is part of the grief I want to embrace during my two weeks in Florida. With this example, I’m grieving for what might have been and for the idyllic, natural countryside of my youth.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO EMBRACE GRIEF?

My experience with grief and sorrow has taught me that it is much better to deal with it than stuff it down. Since I allow my tears to flow, they are usually short-lived.

I’m not schooled in advanced psychology, but I am a certified health coach. So, I understand the value of talking, writing, and journaling about sadness.

SPREADING MY HUSBAND’S ASHES

Wayne was close to many of his students. It started with me in his first-year teaching. We had a natural bond that I likened to a father-daughter relationship in my high school innocence. But each time there was a reunion, Wayne came, and we sat together, sharing memories and our current lives. Another student, Stuart McCutcheon, also found a special place in Wayne’s heart. They enjoyed fishing, hunting, and all the associated male bonding. So naturally, Wayne chose Stuart as his best man at our wedding.

After Wayne’s passing, I arranged to send his ashes to Stuart because I knew they would be well cared for. Within weeks, we discussed the best time to complete Wayne’s request for his final resting place.

Long before Wayne’s cancer appeared, I initiated a difficult conversation. You know what I’m talking about, the discussion about funeral plans. Wayne was adamant about two things.

“I want to hear Amazing Grace at my memorial and spread my ashes from an airboat on Lake Kissimmee.”

The first request was carried out on March 25th, but Stuart wanted to arrange the second at the perfect moment. He chose November 19th for two reasons. First, it’s during duck hunting season, and second, it’s Wayne’s birthday.

SPREADING WAYNE’S ASHES

It was windy and cool when Sugar and I pulled into the Duck Camp. Stuart and I walked to the chairs encircling the huge firepit where many stories unwound with a can of beer or a glass of Jack Daniels. The container with Wayne’s ashes occupied one chair, and fellow hunter, Euwan and his girlfriend, Becci, sat nearby. Their airboat was moored a quarter-mile away on Lake Kissimmee.

We loaded up in Stuart’s pickup for the short drive to the lake. My face lit up when I saw the sturdy chair lashed to the deck of the airboat. Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to navigate the rungs to the usual high vantage spot. And Sugar would be easier to control, or so I thought.

Stuart called one more hunter, McCall, to join us in his camouflage bass boat. While we waited, Sugar explored the deck, curious about the tannic water and minnows along the edge. Suddenly, I heard a splash! Euwan quickly responded, pulling Sugar back onto the deck. She promptly jumped into my lap, shivering while soaking my jeans and sweatshirt. Although she shivered the entire time, her warm body shielded me from the brunt of the wind.

Stuart held onto the aluminum uprights behind my chair, Euwan turned the ignition, and the roar of the aircraft engine filled our ears. As we cleared the deck, Euwan cut the engine, McCall’s boat pulled up alongside, and Stuart lashed us together. This location is where Wayne started every hunting trip, full of anticipation. It was also the place he thanked God when they returned from one of his infamous fubar events. Stuart asked if I wanted to release Wayne’s ashes. I deferred. Although Wayne loved me dearly, I knew how close he was to Stuart. It was a beautiful ceremony, his ashes carried by the wind and the waves.

I KNEW WAYNE WAS WITH US

I experienced a few snafus too. Besides Sugar’s dip in the lake, I had a cell phone problem. Earlier, I tried to photograph the airboat at the dock. To my surprise, my phone screen was black, apparently inoperable. This was a critical moment, and I wanted to record it. I tried a few different tactics before giving up, assuming something terrible had happened to my iPhone.

After the ceremony, Euwan offered his hand as Sugar, and I stepped onto the sandy shore. He started the airboat as he and Becci waved their goodbyes. I let Sugar off-leash to explore the many trails left by odiferous lizards, her favorite prey. Next, McCall and I headed to a larger group of members of the Duck Club, gathered under the oak trees while Stuart walked out to a moored bass boat, retrieving two cold beers. Finally, we wanted to raise a toast to Wayne’s memory.

The reminisces started after brief introductions. Wayne was quite a storyteller, so many were familiar to me.

Still, I was concerned about my phone’s inoperability. So I sought the help of McCall. Then he realized the light level on my phone screen might be the culprit.

Wayne had a habit of accidentally dimming his phone screen, and Stuart or I would fix it. But, until that moment, it had never happened to me.

Wayne’s spirit dimmed my screen to tell me he was there. Perhaps he even gave Sugar a nudge. When I relayed my thoughts to McCall, a look of doubt immediately clouded his face. However, his disbelief didn’t fade my belief.

Since most of the gang was gathered together, I requested a photo. Everyone was happy to oblige. Then I heard the roar of airboats in the distance, and I switched to video mode. A random group of airboats flew by, indicating Wayne was with us. It reminded me of a Thunderbird flyover tribute. Finally, I captured Stuart on the dock, carrying our refreshments.

A Different Perspective

I felt sad and fully grieving when I started my trip down memory lane. The idea of living for the moments that can’t be put into words was clouded with tears. Now, as I write, I have a smile, proof that exploring grief helps dissipate it.

I’ve appropriately closed the book on the final chapter of my life with Wayne. However, beautiful moments replace sad ones, and there are new Wayne stories for sharing.

My heart is filled with love and compassion for you as you wander your path of grief.

Love,
Dawn

Finally, it seems appropriate to include a video of Wayne at the helm of his airboat. We had just completed an amazing ride around Lake Marion when I took this video of him parking in our boat slip.

The Dark Before Dawn

I’ve come to appreciate the dark before dawn. It’s a place of rest in anticipation of the beauty to come. And the more clouds, the more spectacular the display.

The Dark Before Dawn

In life, you might experience something similar, a hurt from childhood that continues to haunt your soul, preventing you from thriving. It is your dark before dawn of realizing the beautiful person you are.

It has been my experience that everyone has something or someone in their young life who wounded them. Usually, it is a person you love or admire; a parent, sibling, grandparent, teacher, or authority figure.

Although it could be a single occurrence, it’s more likely habitual. You’ve heard the painful words many times, in many different ways.

At first, your child self was shocked. Then you started to believe you deserved the criticism. Perhaps you retreated within and tried to hide in hopes you wouldn’t be noticed. Alternatively, you worked hard to be the perfect child to win your tormentor’s love and affection.

None of these tactics worked. You couldn’t escape until you were old enough to get away. By then, their words became your internal words. You convinced yourself they were right.

“I’ll never be good enough.”

You Can Still Heal

You can heal the wound regardless of how long you have felt undeserving.

My wounds were deep and pervasive. It has taken hard work to dig up the truth and hurt. It’s painful. But once you see the source of your anguish and bring it into the light of day, you can destroy it.

The words that hurt you were their words, sourced out of their childhood pain. It is in your power to stop the cycle.

Once you deeply understand this, forgiveness is possible.

Accept Help from Healers

It would help if you had help and support with this work. Healers are available in many ways; therapists, shamans, life coaches, counselors, and reiki practitioners.

Ask for help from your Spiritual Guidance through prayer, meditation, or another ritual meaningful to you. If you are unsure how to start, use this guide to begin the process of uncovering the root cause of your unhappiness.

You Hold the Key to Happiness

Slowly, taking this process one step at a time, you will dispel the dark before dawn and open the gate to a beautiful life you design. Then, like a well-tended garden, you can live a life radiant with sweet-scented encounters and realize your dreams.

You are more than good enough.

You deserve the extraordinary life of the promise your birth bestowed.

With loving tenderness,
Dawn

Find Joy Instead of Despair

Mom’s third day in the hospital dawned as I assessed my morning routine. In my quest to find joy instead of despair, I learned to practice self-care in my caregiver role. Even so, there were little messages that I heard but didn’t heed. For example, I didn’t take time to make breakfast, looking up Bojangles’ sandwiches. But I forgot to download the ordering app. So instead, I completed an abridged version of my Reiki practice, showered, and put on makeup, including mascara.

Find Joy Instead of Despair

When I arrived at Bojangles, I tried to go inside. The staff locked it. I backed out of my parking space and pulled into the drive-up line behind two men on foot. They had motorcycle t-shirts on, and there were motorcycles in the parking lot.

I noticed the pile of large river rocks where the speaker and menu had been. The drive-up line moved slowly. As we neared the temporary ordering setup, I heard the noisy highway floating through my open windows and felt the cool morning breeze. I

It was amusing to watch the motorcycle guys order. They jumped on and backed off the sensor plate to let the Bojangles employee know they wanted to order. The taller of the two bent himself nearly in two at the speaker stand. Then it was my turn to drive up and order. The long line behind me was impressive, snaking around the far side of the building.

I closed my passenger side window to reduce the noise. Waiting patiently, I listened for acknowledgment from the speaker stand. Finally, I shouted at the pedestrians in front of me, “Guys! Hey, guys! Motorcycle guys!” Eventually, the shorter man turned my way and started to approach. Then a voice from the speaker stand said, “Are you talking to me?” I answered, “No, but I’d like to.” We all laughed. I placed my order. It was so amusing; I took a photo of the two guys in front of me from my windshield.

As they approached the drive-up window, one said, “This is a first for me, walking in the drive-up at Bojangle’s!”

Mom’s Third Day at the Hospital

Soon I was backing into a space in the hospital parking lot. Gathering my purse, book, coffee travel cup, and changing my glasses, I locked the car and walked the familiar path to the temporary entrance of the hospital. A new face was staffing the makeshift welcome table. After sanitizing my hands and placing my mask on my face, I approached.

“Do you know where you are headed?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m very familiar with the route.”

“I’ve heard that a lot this morning,” she replied.

As I walked through the gauntlet of chairs in the shared emergency room waiting area, I began the familiar path past walls striped with blue painter’s tape. The young man who was patching drywall all week was absent. I missed saying hello or commenting on his steady progress.

You Never See it Coming

Stepping into the waiting elevator, I pressed the button for the second floor. As the doors opened, I saw two unfamiliar masked faces at the nurse’s station.

“Good morning, you guys are new!”

One of the women, striking in her deep blue scrubs that matched the blue of her kind eyes, had moved toward me. I noticed her name tag said ‘Brenda.’ I turned left for the short walk to Mom’s room. Just before I arrived at the closed door, the nurse, who had discreetly followed me, spoke.

“Are you Dawn?”

“Yes.”

“I just put the phone down as I heard the elevator. I’m sorry, but your mother just passed.”

Brenda was ready for my reaction. She took the coffee mug out of my hand as I covered my audible sob. Her sweet arms hugged me as I continued to cry. Finally, my need to purge grief subsided, her hug loosened, and our eyes met.

“Spend as much time as you need.”

The room was oddly silent as I walked to my familiar spot next to the bed. Mom was serene; her closed eyes had lost their tightness. Although her body had ceased to function, I felt her soul nearby.

“Hi, Mom. It’s Dawn. It’s all over. Don’t worry about anything. You can be with Daddy now.”

I stroked her still warm forehead, “I love you.”

I closed the hospital room door and headed for the nurse’s station to thank them. Then, out of the blue, I heard myself telling the story of my funny experience in the drive-up at Bojangles. I knew Mom’s soul was there, too, laughing along with us.

Find Joy Instead of Despair

Hospitals and death can be harrowing experiences. Or they can be joyful. Allowing my emotion’s full impact when I had the loving support of nurse Brenda opened up space for the joy of release. The release was for my Mom and me. Furthermore, it gave me the freedom to relieve the natural stress felt by the hospital staff.

Having experienced the deaths of two husbands, my father and now my mother, in the past seven years has served as a primer for grieving and letting go.

Mom and I discussed death many times. She and I were together at Dad’s passing. And both were adamant in their wish to allow death it’s due. I’m grateful Mom’s end of life wasn’t prolonged and that the hospital staff supported our decisions.

My understanding of the importance of self-care, especially in the role of caregiver, has brought me peace. I have learned how to find joy instead of despair. So, may your life experiences bring you growth toward fulfilling your purpose.