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Cries of Loss...Songs of Gratitude

Today, our family is holding joy and sorrow – happiness and sadness in tandem.

It is one of those days I would love to be in several places at one time.

First – a very happy birthday to #3 of us four sisters! Angie Baby turns 55 today. She has always been our livewire, “Let’s goooooo!!!” yelling sister, aunt, Mama, daughter and amazing friend. And, she means it! She is the one that makes me tired just by knowing her schedule. Her flight patterns are inclusive but not limited to airplanes. And we share something really special – bite splints! (May our jaws heal and TMJ issues continue to dissipate! This is us comparing our splints! Beautiful pics!)

Angela – you have taught me to celebrate life and enjoy the moments! Happy Birthday sister! I know you are on another airplane. Today, Angela is out west for her friend’s mom’s funeral. She will be present with their family offering support, prayer, and love to people she has walked with for years. While her joy will be evident because they get to be together – the pain of loss if what is bringing them close for the weekend.

While all of this is taking place – my baby sister and family are on the east coast laying to rest her father-in-law. Her husband Andrew and their family have been caring for Andrew’s Dad and Mom as he made the transition from this life to the next. These last years have been challenging, but the last couple of weeks have been brutal. You have our prayers and love Birdhouse. I just wish I could be right next to you. We love you Andy and Liz! The pain of losing a parent is hard to explain. Hugs to all of you today.

(Rest in Peace Larry! Hugs to Mama Ann) (Love this Family! Love you to Nephew Jadon. He was away at school when I took the family pic at Roosters.)

You see, as we were growing up - I was a 2nd Mom to my sisters. I was always babysitting, blowing noses, holding babies, and changing diapers. I worried about them as a mother would. In fact - this is a plaque my mother made years ago to commemorate my life as a child. Haha!

Seriously - this says it all!!! Haha!

And, although it took me a long while to recognize how to love them without “mothering” so much – I fell deeply in love with my sisters. I am so grateful for them.

As we age – I am more aware of the need to hold space for grief and lament while wildly cheering each other on with joy. It happens so often – doesn’t it? While someone dear is dying, struggling with a difficult diagnosis, or going through chemo, another is giving birth, celebrating a PR or getting married.

The heights and depths of emotion seem to be present daily.

Today, the November 10th devotional from Henri Nouwen’s book, You Are The Beloved, caught my attention. Here is an excerpt that is so fitting for this day.

“Our grief makes us experience the abyss of our own life in which nothing is settled, clear or obvious, but everything is constantly shifting and changing…But in the midst of all this pain, there is a strange, shocking, yet very surprising voice. It is the voice of the One who says: “Blessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:5 TNJB). That’s the unexpected news: there is a blessing hidden in our grief. Not those who comfort are blessed, but those who mourn! Somehow, in the midst of our tears, a gift is hidden. Somehow, in the midst of our mourning, the first steps of the dance take place. Somehow, the cries that well up from our losses belong to our songs of gratitude.” (excerpt from “The Blessing Hidden in Grief”).

Yesterday my friend Emily - out of the blue - sent me a gift. These words mean even more to me than the beautiful bracelet. (Although I love that too!!!)

As the Quakers say, "I will hold you in the light." Emily reminded me that the "light" is still shining even in the darkness - and maybe especially so. She has allowed me the gift of lament, sadness and sorrow while her smile, words, generosity have lifted my heart and bathed it in light. Thanks Em!

So, today we celebrate the lives of those who bring wisdom, joy, dancing, hope to us as we mourn the death of those gone too soon.

Today, we learn new dance steps that remind us to carry on the dreams of those who have passed by remembering that grief and loss are a part of life and gratitude.

Today, may we mourn and grieve and lament (death, the wars, the refugee crisis, the losses we face) while we also share love, share hope, share laughter, and work endlessly toward peace and justice.

Yes, may “…the cries that well up from our losses belong to our songs of gratitude.” Yes, may we sing…songs of thanks again.

Signing off - Ken and I - proclaiming....LOVE MORE LESS FEAR always!!!

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