Sunday, January 20, 2008

For Buddy

Today my husband and I went to the funeral of a former student who lives in a community about an hour south of Kansas City. He was one of our favorites, but time has slipped past us, often at break-neck speeds, and it has been years since Jim or I had seen or spoken with him.

I was sorrowed when I heard the news but unprepared for the grief I felt when I arrived at the funeral home. He was a young man -- only 46 -- with two grown sons and grandchildren. Way too young to die.

Seeing his sisters (whom we also taught) and other former students brought a flood of memories: Friday night football games, taco parties on Super Bowl Sundays, taking the freshman class to Worlds of Fun, Jim's driving a school bus to Colorado on the senior trip, working on the school newspaper.

Jim and I left the school district and moved to Kansas City after Buddy's senior year. We kept in touch regularly at first, but then job demands and our children's activities kept us busy, drawing us away from these special people who had been such a big part of our lives.

The last time I saw Buddy was at a football game in a Kansas City suburb. I don't remember why we were there or what teams were playing, but I do remember a tap on the shoulder, and I turned around to see a bald-headed man grinning from ear to ear. For a moment it didn't register, then I recognized the once curly-headed boy I'd known was standing before me. I cried, "Buddy!" and gave him the biggest hug.

I wish he had been there today, so I could have hugged him one last time.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Rest of the Story

In several posts lately, I have mentioned my grandson's stillbirth, but I have been remiss in not telling "the rest of the story."

Brock would have been five this past November, and I often think of him, but God has been good to me and has blessed me in many ways:
  • with a strong support group at my church and former school and across the world through my online writing class and Literary Mama
  • with two beautiful granddaughters who have given my whole family great pleasure
  • with a sweet, generous husband who loves and supports me and works hard to provide for his family
  • with two handsome sons who have become responsible, personable young men
  • with a wonderful daughter-in-law whom I love and value greatly
  • with the greatest sister in the whole world Oh! How we laugh!
  • with my parents who have enjoyed longevity of life and reasonably good health
  • with Jesus who is my Lord, Savior, and Friend
  • with His Word to comfort and guide me.
Though life can be hard, God is always good. So, I just want to set the record straight. I am at peace and filled with joy.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Full of Smiles

Recently my colleague and dear friend Michael described me as being "full of smiles." I do love to laugh, and since my last few posts have been on the sober side, I thought to lighten things up, which led me to think of my niece's November wedding.

Beth is an amazing young woman, and she married a great guy Brian Bell. I love their alliterative names so much I wrote their first and last names on their Christmas gift tags!

The wedding and the reception were both elegant and lovely. Tiny white lights woven through ficus trees made the reception room twinkle with the magic of a fairy tale.

Here is my favorite video clip from the weekend! While the quality is not the best, it's good enough to remind me why I'm full of smiles.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Writing Ironies

This week my essay A Kite in November about my grandson's stillbirth is among the writings featured as Literary Mama's 2007 Favorites.

When it was posted in November, a friend complimented me, saying, "You must be proud." I was pleased to be published at a website like LM because I know the staff's integrity and expectations of excellence. But proud -- no -- that does not describe how I feel.

Even now, to be included as a favorite, I don't feel proud. I am touched that my colleagues think highly of my piece. These are writers who have PhD. after their names. They have published books! They have agents! These women give me something to aspire to, as writers, mothers, and women, and while I am proud to be associated with such a fine organization, recognition for this particular writing evoked a different emotion.

If I had written about something less intense, some circumstance with a happy ending, I image the elation and euphoria of being published would have me smiling for days. But there is an entirely different feeling related to this. This experience called to be written to offer hope to others, to give a voice to the sorrow, to experience the catharsis, to honor my grandson and his parents.

While I'm glad to be recognized, I know that to write deeply, we write of our losses, yet we'd most gladly escape the losses that provide opportunity to write deeply.

There in lies the irony of writing.

New Year, New Look

I love pink. It makes me happy, and being one of my most flattering colors, it makes me look happy. Sometimes I have considered making it my signature color -- become the next Carolina Herrera -- make pink the new black. (Except I think someone else thought of that a couple of seasons ago.)
Creating this blog, I chose a template that reflected my love of pink. I was never completely happy with it, but hey -- it was pink! No matter it was loud -- maybe even startling! It began to remind me of Pepto Bismol. Not exactly what the product a writer cares to be associated with.
So, with a new year, I've created a new look. A soft, calming green.
I hope it doesn't put anyone to . . . ZZZZ.
Postscript: Since making these changes, Blogspot has developed more template choices. Thus, I have returned to my favorite pink! Hopefully, in a tone more pleasing the PB.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

The Christmas following my grandson's stillbirth was a difficult one -- I could not concentrate during sermons, Sunday school lessons, department meetings, or any group gathering. Everyone sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons: "Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah." But music cut through the cloud that enveloped me, and in that, I came to regard "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" as my favorite carol.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heaven's all gracious King!"
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

Through the lyrics, I sensed God's call to rest and marveled at His gracious provision of words I could hear -- words that offered compassion and mercy, warmth and sympathy, kindness and encouragement.

Now during Christmas, I look forward to singing this carol that reminds me of God's faithfulness, and I pray that those whose forms bend low beneath life's crushing blows will also find comfort in its message.