Tag Archives: grief

More Thoughts after “Adaline”

walk-the-talk(image from twinlifemarketing.com.au)

God’s sometimes-ironic sense of humor was alive and well when I woke up this morning with the worst cold I’ve had in years. Right now my entire face is throbbing, everything is clogged and I have a “case of the miserables.” Hmmm, how to walk last night’s talk today when all I want to do is curl under a blanket and binge-watch “Frasier”? 

Of course there is nothing wrong with taking a sick day or two. However, I felt compelled to not give into that just yet. (I’ll probably succumb in an hour or two.) I have too long a history of emotional epiphanies only to see them vaporize the next day when hardship comes my way. How many diets have ended on a Monday evening or Tuesday morning? 😉 (Which is partially why “Always we begin again” is so helpful to me.) I did not want today to be like that. 

So with clogged ears, and a throbbing head, I got back in touch with how I felt as I left the theater a couple of evenings ago. I thought again about my “age” and what it means to have a “dash” to live out. 

And all sorts of thoughts started to swirl in me about how worth and value isn’t in what we DO but who we ARE so putting too much emphasis on performance and productivity can be harmful. And I certainly don’t want to convey to anyone out there who struggles with something like chronic illness or depression that they need to “snap out of it” and “get moving.” That is so not what I’m trying to say. That swirl was followed by remembering a recent conversation I had with someone about “faith without works is dead.” Ah, the paradox…the both-and…AGAIN.

All I can say is that I feel that I’m in some kind of corrective place. My life had gotten out of balance and I wasn’t even aware of it until God used this lovely little movie to get me thinking about how I spend my days. Adaline had to keep running from being found out…she could never “bloom where she was planted.” And there’s the rub — she was given an eternity of days but couldn’t actually LIVE. I’ve been given a finite number of days and have the opportunity to live life to the full. Even in the midst of divorce. Even in the midst of deep grief. Even in the midst of my own chronic conditions.

So…little steps that got me moving — I tidied up my bedroom then decided to tackle a small but important project for church. (I learned how to embed a video into PowerPoint. Huzzah!) Wound up having a lovely IM chat with a friend, supporting each other through some difficult things. In and of themselves, they aren’t much to write about (hello more irony), but it’s all part of the notion of moments connecting with moments to get me out of myself and live into the “dash.” 

And there’s something in this about hope, too. As I live in “Saturday” I can hold onto hope, and part of doing that is not giving up or giving in to sloth, worry, or escapism (among other things). It’s an act of faith, and an act of hope, to do something, anything, when I feel beaten down by life, grief, and/or a nasty virus. 

Sometimes it’s hard for me to see the obvious, and sometimes I need a smack on the head to wake me up. However, this time God chose to open my eyes in such a beautiful and gentle way. Grateful for this mercy undeserved.

I still want to see the movie again, to help solidify some of these thoughts and to see if there is more to glean. Once my ears unclog, that is.




The Age of Nina

adaline-better(image from thewrap.com)

Last night I saw the film “The Age of Adaline” and was so moved by it that I’m going to see it again tomorrow. Perhaps I should wait until then to write about it, but there is so much swirling in my soul that I want to put fingers to keyboard today while things are still fresh. (Perhaps a Part Two with further reflections will come after the second viewing. We shall see.)

For anyone who hasn’t yet seen the film, there won’t be any spoilers here. The premise has been made clear in the trailers — a woman (Adaline) has something happen to her which causes her to never age. That’s it, in a nutshell. However, the complexities of this condition are played out in the film with such poignancy and grace, that at times I found myself holding my breath. I became completely absorbed in the story as I entered this woman’s world and her struggles with remaining young while her daughter ages, and time moves on. She lives through decade after decade, the same age. Her hairstyles and fashions change with the times, but nary a wrinkle or gray hair. 

There are some twists and turns which I won’t share, but it all got me to thinking about the life we are given. We’re all given an “age” — a span of time with which to live out our days. I remember my brother-in-law once commented on how tombstones show the dates of birth and death with a dash in between, but what REALLY matters is “what happened in the dash.” (Thanks, Russ!) We do not know how long our “dash” will be. Adaline had to contend with being an anomaly who will never die. For the rest of us, our days are numbered. 

The movie made me take a closer look at how I spend my time, what things I focus on, and if I’m making a bit of difference on this planet during my “dash.” Am I taking care of myself in body, soul, and spirit so that I can live a long, healthy, and meaningful life?

Not lately.

The last three months have been particularly difficult ones as I’ve been in a place of deep grief which has consumed most of my energy. My resolve to eat healthily and exercise regularly pretty much flew out the window after I moved when I began to feel the pain of leaving our home and the loss in knowing we would never have a home together again. Adjusting to living in someone else’s house has been hard. Trying to sort through all of the emotions of the divorce while our 30th anniversary looms ahead has been really hard. And while I talk a good talk about sitting in “Saturday” (HERE and HERE) I fall prey to escapism just like everyone else…binge-watching Netflix, binge-eating ice cream; numbing the pain when it becomes too hard to bear; spiritual practices going by the wayside, my Bible reading plan stalled and gratitude journal often going untouched for days on end.

As I walked out of the theater last night, I pondered the last three months and what rose up in me was, “No more!” I had become so focused on whatever I was feeling in the moment that I had lost sight of the big picture, the long view, my “age,” my “dash.” I had gotten stuck in a pit and realized it’s time to climb out.

Now I believe it is important to be fully present in the present, for that is where God’s presence is. I am a big believer in feeling the feelings as you feel them; cry hard and laugh hard. Metabolizing emotions is so important for mental and physical health. BUT…I can get so bogged down in the moment that I forget how continuing certain disciplines and practices even in the midst of the pain will only increase the healing. The short term effort will reap big results, but I lose sight of this when I am consumed with rage and sadness. Easier to turn off the alarm and roll over and sleep another two hours instead of getting out of bed and going for a walk. Easier to drive through for fast food than make a healthy dinner. So much easier to flip on the TV and numb out than to sit quietly in God’s presence and pray and feel…and heal.

Of course there is grace; I’m not expecting myself or anyone else to be perfect here. But Adaline’s plight caused me to take stock of where I am right now and I came up short. No condemnation — thanks be to God! —  only a newfound appreciation of the gift of TIME, of the moments, days, weeks, months, and years of my “dash.” I don’t want to waste any of it. 

So this morning, even though I was emotionally exhausted from weeping right before bed and my body felt awful from both the emotional stress and all the sugar I’d eaten the day before, I thought of how I felt yesterday after the movie and I remembered I only have a finite number of days. So I went for a walk and prayed. I came home and made a healthy smoothie. I spent time meditating on God’s goodness, even with body, soul, and spirit all in pain.

And I thought, “This is the abundant life.” It’s not happy-skippy but it is FULL and GOOD. I had an important meeting to go to in the afternoon where I knew I needed to be present and offer whatever I could to help bring some resolution to a sticky situation. I also needed to reach out and care for my son who’s across the country on an adventure that didn’t start out too well. I needed to be able to be present to others while being present to God and myself. (Ah…the old upward/outward/inward journey!) No matter the pain. No matter the internal struggle. It was a good day. And as i wrap it up, I realize I had very few moments of escaping. I want more days like these. I pray they will add up, one by one, into a really good “age” and a long, fruitful “dash.” 

Thanks, Adaline.

Everything Must Go!

let-it-go1(image from amzlove.wordpress.com)

I had a yard sale yesterday, something millions of people do across America every weekend. As I watched the crowd rummage through and purchase the many things my son and I laid out (in organized fashion, I might add) in the front yard, I entered a deeper grief. I was watching my life being dismantled; my former life, anyway. Twenty-nine years of married life, of family life, being sold off, one tchotchke at a time…one gift-to-him-from-me, one gift-to-me-from-him at a time. A lifetime of memories, sold mostly for a buck or less to perfect strangers looking for a bargain.

The toughest moment was when someone bought the entire box of Christmas ornaments we’d collected over the years; one ornament for each Christmas we were together, from 1985 through 2013. I loved hanging those on the tree every year, watching the collection grow, and wondering what our tree would be like when we were old and had 60+ of those special ornaments. Instead, the collection stopped at 29 and will now be hung on someone else’s tree, commemorating birthdays instead of a marriage.

The man buying the ornaments was excited to give them to his daughter, and I smiled through my tears as I took his money…breathed deeply as I watched him walk away with a box of our history, sold for $5. Such a deal.

When the sale was winding down, with just about everything sold, my son hugged me and encouraged me that all of this was going to open up opportunities for other dreams to come true, that the end of one thing is the beginning of something else, and that I would discover new dreams in my new life. As if to confirm his words, this quote was on Facebook this morning, posted by my friend Sally Ann

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, 
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
– E.M. Forester

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much. 

I took a walk, had a good cry, and then came inside and counted the money…over $550 dollars to put toward moving into my new life. Not a bad haul. It will pay for the U-Haul next weekend and the food to feed my friends who are coming to help me move across town. The rest will go toward moving to SoCal in the spring. 

Kind of poetic how the proceeds from the old are funding the beginning of the new.

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

Day 29: A Full and Heavy Heart


Dan Allender gave us a beautiful send off yesterday morning, with so much emotion in his voice. He shared how we were all facing death as we left and I started to think about the different deaths — the end of a wonderful and rich six months of study, the ending of four four-day sessions of classes and group time, the knowing that the same group of people will never be in the same place at the same time, and the uncertainty of whether we’ll be able to maintain the closeness with the few to whom we’ve grown so deeply attached.

Dan cautioned how in the moments that we need to face death by saying goodbye, there is a temptation to flee because it is absolutely impossible to do it completely. Impossible to say all that is in one’s heart in the moment. IMPOSSIBLE. And so instead of pressing into the “not enough will need to be enough”-ness of it all, some of us grow cynical as a way to self-protect. Some do the opposite and overspiritualize it with declarations like, “I’ll see you in Heaven!” as a way of deflecting the pain in parting. Some refuse to show up at all. Refuse to bless. Refuse to grieve. And then carry a lifetime of unfinished grieving with them wherever they go.

There’s a better way and it was beautiful to be part of a group that was willing to enter into the joy and pain of departing. A few folks were forced to leave due to plane schedules, but the majority hung around for awhile, facing the moment with long hugs, smiles through tears, and lots of attempts — feeble and incomplete as they had to be — to express what was in our hearts. It’s a lot to bear the tension of a heart full of joy in the loving and being loved, alongside a heavy heart of grief, wishing somehow the moment could be more complete.

I’m now home, but not fully here. I wish I could go back to Chicago one last time for one more round. It’s part of the way of metabolizing pain slowly, I guess, imagining “if only…” Because even if there was a miraculous opportunity to gather all of those wonderful people for one more session…

We’d still have to say goodbye in the end.