Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Minute clinic

Waiting my turn at the minute clinic. Pink eye will be diagnosed and medicine given.  What about all the other places in my life that are in need of a refresh button? Is it possible that the minute clinic nurse is a super hero, able to cure all that ails?  It'd be pretty cool to walk out whole and healed and energized. I'd come back every day for that!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Feeling some kind of way"

I hear the phrase "feeling some kind of way" pretty often around my neighborhood.  I haven't been able to determine exactly what it means.  But today, I'm feeling just that...some kind of way. 
     After a several year bout with alzheimer's and a recent fall, my Grandmother (Nana) died on Thursday morning.  On Thursday, I kept relatively quiet about the news.  I didn't really want to talk about it and I really didn't want to hear people's condolensces.  I expected to hear words like "I'm sorry" or "She's in a better place" and knew that they'd only result in me being angry.  So, I just kept quiet about it. I was stressed, too, about the logistics of going home and so I just kept to myself until after our boys went to sleep.  
After a stressful converstation about when to go home and where to stay, we made our plans and resolved to travel to Raleigh on Saturday and stay through Monday.  The visitation and Graveside service would be on Monday afternoon.  Friday, I spent much of the morning looking through old pictures.  Unfortunately, this was a solitary exercise.  The kids were a little to crazy and the husband was helping with the kids.  I sorted through pictures and spent time remembering by myself.  Saturday, we packed and got ready and went to a friend's house warming party before going to Raleigh.  I was looking forward to spending time with family and hoped that sharing stories and spending time with one another would be healing and comforting.
     And it was.
     We went to my home church on Sunday morning and it was great to be home there.  We spent the afternoon and evening with family and I enjoyed visiting.  Monday, we walked down my Grandmother's Street and took pictures on her front porch before going to lunch and the visitation.  And it was all good and helpful.
Today is Tuesday, though, and I still feel some kind of way...a mixture of ways, really.  I feel like I want to see more pictures and hear more stories.  I feel like I want to ask questions to get at the mysteries a once child-now adult does not understand about her grandparents.  I long to have a token, something to hold onto that was Nana's, to keep in my line of sight and remind me of her.  I want to grasp onto an idea or practice that will help me to commemorate or honor her life. 
     Going back to a "regular" day of work and living is strange.  I see the long list of things I wish I would do: dust, clean, sweep, reply to emails, make phone calls, write letters, read the new magazine/book/blog, unpack my suitcase from the weekend, put up the laundry, fix the couch slip cover (again), plant the new begonia.... but, I can't manage to get up to do much of anything at all. 
It doesn't help that I'm tired from traveling and staying with two toddlers in a hotel room.  It doesn't help that it seems I have pink eye.  It doesn't help that it is just cold enough outside to make me want to stay in a ball up in a blanket.  It really doesn't help that the list of things I should be doing seems so long and so unattainable that it feels like there's no point in even starting at all.  And all these very practical things might just be the reasons why I'm feeling some kind of way.  Maybe it has nothing to do with Nana's death.  Maybe this blah feeling just comes from the moutain of uninteresting and unmotivating things I wish were done.  Or maybe I'm feeling some kind of way because this week I lost my maternal grandmother.  Either way,I'm ready not to feel this way.  I'm ready to feel differently: alive, healthy, whole, motivated, energized.  But, I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle that to do list.  Can't someone do it for me?   I'm ready to feel some closure, but am not sure how to obtain it.  Can't somebody give me the answers?
     I will have to say, after experiencing the death of my own Grandmother, I now know better how to care for others in their time of difficulty.  The favorite things I heard (and the things I wish I had heard) are:   "Helms, i am sensing that you are going through something.  When you want to talk about it, I'd like to listen."  "Tell me the stories about your grandmother."  and when I asked someone to pray for her, they wrote a prayer to God and sent it to me to read.  The pastor who peformed the ceremony was Jack Glasgow.  He certainly had a way of listening and caring for us.  I was grateful to be cared for such a comforting person.  And, folks, you are right that she is in a better place and that it is better that she is not in pain, but that kind of comment doesn't feel good.  It may not feel good simply because our Pastoral Care professors told us not to say it and it may not feel good because it isn't the best thing to say.  Either way, it doesn't feel good.  What did feel good was to be enveloped by our family and friends as we stood together at the grave.  What did feel good was to have Nana mentioned with love and admiration.  What did feel good was for friends and family to remain in our presence, not saying a word at all.  What felt good was to turn around at the visitation and see that one of the flowers was sent for me.  And it felt good to have someone who didn't know my grandmother at all send a gift in her honor solely because the giver knew and cared for me.
     I learned through this how to be a better caregiver to my peers.(Do I have any?)  Not a single one of my peers came to the visitation or graveside service.  I didn't expect them to come, but I did sort of watch at the door just to see if someone'd surprise me by coming.  And I'm not hurt by their absence, but I have learned by this that I want to be there for somebody else.  And I don't care if they won't be there for me or if they aren't the kind of friend I want them to be for me.  I want to be for them a healing presence.  I hope I don't beat myself up later on when I can't attend every funeral or be at every visitation, especially when it is a good distance away.  But I do want to creatively think about ways in which I can extend a spirit of care and comfort to my own peers; not just my parishoners, but my peers.
    Some things I still long to hear:  the positive ways in which I am like Nana,  the secrets no one was willing to tell that helps me to know more about who I am and why our family acts certain ways.  And I wish we'd recorded one of our family jam sessions.  And I wish I could play in her dresser again.  And I wish I'd been given something of hers to cherish.  And I wish I had a really good picture of her.  And I wish I'd recorded her voice and bottled her smell.
    There are more things to reflect on: being at my home church and remembering the joy and pain I experienced there, being with my family as they stayed relatively stoic and quiet throughout the few days, things I remember about Nana...more to come.

Be uncommonly good
 "And deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome some day, by God's grace, by helping the seed of the kingdom grow in ourselves and in each other until finally in all of us it becomes a tree where the birds of the air can come and make their nests in our branches.  That is all that matters really."
~Fredrick Buechner
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