I have a few thoughts I would like to share, and a bit of information:
First – we’ve moved the time of the service just slightly.
We had announced that the service was at 3p on April 26. However, the new/correct time is 3:30p – thirty minutes later.
April 26, 3:30p at the Yakima SDA Church
507 N 35th Ave [on 35th Ave, between Lincoln and Englewood]
A short anecdote:
We have a book we gave Dad some time back – it’s one of those books that the person fills out – it asks questions about their life as a child and about what happened in their life… He approached this task like many others – he took it on like a job: He filled many pages out, with cryptic and short answers – but he did it! He returned it only a few months later to us and unfortunately we’ve never really gotten around to looking at his responses till recently. [How sad - there are snippets that we'd love to know more about, but we probably won't get that chance.]
So, there’s a question about:
“Can you remember being afraid as a boy? What was your greatest fear and what did you do about it?”
His response is, in my opinion, typically Dad in every aspect. The writing is certainly not worthy of any penmanship awards. The answer is as brief and succinct as possible – one wouldn’t want to write more than needed. [Remember this is a job, not a leisurely stroll! If you went hiking with him, you know there were no leisurely strolls.]
– “Shadows – go investigate them.
– “Beauty the cow – confronted her with stick or pitchfork.”
– “Cyrus the bull – at puberty – chased me. His horns got the bales of hay as I went over the fence. He was soon steak and hamburger.
I raised him as a calf.”
The words and sentiments are quite Dad’s way of seeing things. The shadows, the cow – these are conquerable. The bull? Not so much – but the bull got his “just” reward.
And yet, Dad still gets in the bitter-sweet pip; that he’d raised the bull as a calf.
Four sentences. But they reveal a picture for me that is congruent with who I knew Dad to be: A complicated person, who approached life’s challenges as mountains to conquer. One who appeared to relish the demise of the angry and un-tamable bull, while also, seemingly fondly remembering when it once wasn’t such a terrible creature.
I know that’s short, and I usually say more. But this time, I think that’s perfect as-is.
Finally, Lisa was out a few weeks ago, and ran across this book. It had a wonderful story about the authors experience, and it talks about so many of the emotions and trials we face in large and small ways every day. It felt especially poignant now.
“Dancers Among Us” by Jordan Matter
[You can buy it at that link above, if you want.]
“Hudson, do not wake up your mother!”
My son was protesting a particularly harsh parental decision of mine that involved limiting his sugar intake to something just short of diabetic. He stormed up the stairs, ready to burst into our room and tell Mommy.
“Hudson, I seriously mean it,” I whispered frantically. “Do not open that door.”
Salish had been born just a few months before, Mother and daughter were finally passed out together after an exhausting stretch of newborn intransigence. This could be catastrophic.
I watched as Hudson threw open the door and disappeared inside.
“MOMMY, DADDY IS BEING MEAN TO ME…”
I entered into utter chaos – Salish shrieking, Hudson crying, Mommy delirious. My anger was so overwhelming and absolute that I screamed the four words never before uttered in our home: “GO TO YOUR ROOM!”
Hudson was confused. Was this punishment? He’d heard about time-outs from his friends but had never experienced one himself. His uncertainty was quickly erased as he felt the force with which I picked him up and carried him away.
“I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY!” he screeched, stopping only to start crying uncontrollably. I put him on his bed and stared at him with barely restrained rage.
“Sit here until I come back.”
“How long will it be?” he sobbed.
“I don’t know.”
As I left his room I thought to myself, how awful a punishment is lying in bed, staring at the ceiling mural, maybe grabbing a toy and quietly playing? I thought he might even take a nap. I had no idea how terrifying the experience would be for him. Hudson stayed in the same position on his bed crying so painfully that it was agonizing to hear. I waited as long as I could stand it before opening the door. He stopped crying and looked at me with heartbreaking vulnerability.
“Do you know why I’m so angry?” I asked softly.
He shook his head. As I explained he blinked back tears and said nothing. When I finished, the tears began to flow again. His voice was quivering. In one desperate sentence he identified the foundation of human fear: “Do you still like me?”
He collapsed into my arms and cried for a long time. I held him tightly and promised my unconditional love. Finally, he looked up at me with red eyes and smiled.
“Daddy, want to play with my airplane together?”
“Of course,” I said, smiling back.
It was over. He had released his emotions by thoroughly embracing them. He felt until there was nothing left to feel.
As adults we often confuse maturity with stoicism, thus losing our ability to process our grief. Of the many traps adulthood sets, the most destructive may be the belief that we should “buck up and move on” when grief sets in. We should take our time to feel the pain. Let it wash over us and not run from it.
When my mother died, I was unprepared for the emotions I felt. I had spent a lifetime leaning to compartmentalize my feelings, learning to find an immediate distraction whenever sorrow threatened to derail me. Her death was sudden, and our relationship was complicated and unresolved. The pain was overwhelming. I shut it off immediately, allowing myself one day of mourning before returning to my routine. One day. I never said good-bye, I never grieved for her, and thoughts of her paralyze me to this day.
I wish being held could ease all the difficult moments in life. I wish a time-out and a thirty-minute cry would forever resolve our pain. But it doesn’t. Yet honoring grief large and small – the situations we laugh about after an hour, the others we never fully resolve – helps remind us that intense feelings are natural.
—Well that’s all. I hope it causes you to think. To stop and ponder.