Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Being a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon)

A few weeks ago, Joni Martin, asked me to write a post on her blog, Hope's Journey!  I was thrilled and honored.  The assignment was to answer a few questions about my religion and how my belief in God has influenced my life.

I love what Joni is doing!  She is highlighting several religions, as she looks into their beliefs and gains a better understanding of women around the world and how their beliefs guide them from day to day.  I have read some of her blog and have found it to be very very fascinating!

If you'd like to read my post visit Joni's blog, Hope's Journey!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

....than never to have loved at all

I spent a few hours in Cedar City recently, attending the bridal shower of my soon to be sister-in-law.  On our way to the shower we drove past an old apartment building.  The very same apartment building I lived in 14 years ago.  

A rush of emotion that I wasn't expecting, flowed through my heart, and suddenly, I could see my 19 year old self standing on the sidewalk watching our car drive by.

I realized that this little college town left a huge emotional mark on my life.  My short time there gave me my first introduction to living in the moment.  Somehow I was able to know and feel how amazing and meaningful my experiences were while I was experiencing them, not afterward, but right there in the middle of it all.  I think of myself with all of my insecurities and hopes.....everything that laid before me, and how excited I was to grow into myself.

I got to spend nearly every precious moment with my cousins that year.  I got to live out on my own for the very first time, and I got to feel love in a way I had never felt love.

He was a neighbor boy, and I adored him.  I laid awake at night thinking about his smile, and the way his blue eyes peered out from under the brim of his baseball cap.  He asked me questions about myself and he shared his french fries with me.  He was charming, kind and funny and my heart ached for him to love me......even just a little bit.  I think he knew, and I think a tiny part of his heart did love me, but always in a distant way.  He watched out for me, checked up on me, asked me my opinion, and I waited patiently for him to realize that I was the girl he loved more than any other girl.  Looking back now, I was so silly and young.  I wasn't ready to be that girl.  I loved, but I also pushed away.

The last time I saw him, was right before my mission.  I was visiting Cedar City, and my cousins and I made him some cookies, just like we used to.  We delivered them, and he was warm and kind and once again my heart ached.  After a while he gave me a hug and said, "I guess I'll see you in a year and a half".  When I returned home a year and a half later, I found out he was married, and once again I couldn't breath.  All of my hoping and waiting stared back at me, finally telling me the truth.  I would never be that girl....not for him.

I think it is funny that my first great love, wasn't anything more than a friend.  It wasn't some passionate love affair gone wrong.....I just simply loved him.  Something in our interactions always kept me hoping, that possibly he felt the same.  He always showed me just enough attention and emotional affection to keep me hanging on....and waiting.  I know it may seem silly, but there was something about this boy that bonded my heart to him.  I have since wondered if we are in fact bonded to some people in ways we are not able to remember.  If possibly that smile and those eyes were familiar to me before I ever met him here. 

Two nights this week I have seen him in my dreams.  I have been reminded that he is still there.  His memory still bouncing around in my heart somewhere.  

The good news is, I know how it feels to be loved.  Real reciprocated love.  My life is good and my heart is Tyler's, but sometimes the haunting begins and for a short time, I wonder where he is now, what he is doing.  I wonder if he ever loved me and just didn't know how to tell me.  I have made a few attempts to reconnect with him, but none have been answered.  And so I wonder.

Love is a much bigger thing than me, and I am so grateful to know what it feels like.  I am a feeling person, and when I love you.....I love you.  I guess it doesn't really matter if I have been loved as much as I HAVE loved.  Love can be lasting, even when it is not given back.  I have known rejection....a lot of rejection, and I think I have created more of it than I realize, but knowing love and knowing pain remind me I am alive. 

I have spent so much of my time guarding my heart over the years.  I don't want to be hurt.  I don't want to foolishly give something that isn't wanted, but the truth is love is a risky business, and at some point along the way I decided to be a risk taker. Who cares if I have to feel pain in the process.  

My discovery is that it IS better to have loved and lost, because when it comes the experience of love, there really isn't anything to lose.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wish List

I have a constant wish list in my mind and heart.  It consists of pretty things, books, places, flavors and experiences, and this week I have added two new items!

I found both of these things on the blog decor8, one of my favorite design blogs!  

The first are a handful of beautiful prints created by Katie Daisy and sold in her etsy shop The Wheat Field!  I love her designs.  The beautiful colors and especially the words!  They are bright and inspiring and I NEED some in my home!

The second is a book by Meredith Gaston called "Tucked In".  This sweet little book takes a look at all of the little things surrounding and supporting the blissful experience of sleep.

  I love this description of her book.

“Bed needn’t be a place just for sleeping. Whether you are young or old, nimble or wobbly, tucked into bed on the doctor’s orders or on your very own whim, you can use your time in bed to explore your creativity and heal your soul. Meredith Gaston, artist and passionate lover of all things bed, encourages us to discover that our tucked-in time can be as creative as it is restorative, enriching our days and bringing joy to our lives. We learn how to analyse our dreams and find out what our sleeping positions reveal about our personalities, as well as creating our own tucked-in haiku poetry, comfort foods and dream catchers. Simply snuggle back, relax, and be guided through a world of tea cup cosies, shadow puppets, favourite bed socks and eclectic sleepy facts. The perfect gift for the bedbound or balm for the world-weary, Tucked In is sure to uplift, soothe and inspire.”

Photos taken from decor8
It would be the perfect book to keep on my night stand and inspire me into a deep satisfying slumber!  Heaven knows I could use a deep and satisfying slumber from time to time!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For the Birds

Photo with Grandma five years ago on my wedding day

I stood in a hospital room, dimly lit, quiet, warmed with the love of family. 

We drove varying distances to be there, each of us pushing our way swiftly down the road, trying to beat the inevitable last breath of a life we have all cherished, some of us not realizing how deeply until this very moment.

Just days before, I stood in another room..... her living room.  Hovering over Grandma as she pulled her weak shaky body to it's feet.  She paused half way up, holding tightly to her cane, "This getting old......is for the birds".  She shook her head and looked up at me with tired brown eyes.  "I know Grandma".  She has been saying that for years. 

I helped her bathe, dress, and gather up the things she would need for her visit to the hospital for a sleep test she had been dreading for months.  Early the next morning she would travel on to my mother's house where she would stay....... maybe for good.  "Sharon isn't feeling well enough to care for me, and your mother refuses to put me in a home, so I guess I'll be staying with her".  I can tell she feels like a burden already.  "Grandma, you are at that point in your life where it is time to surrender and allow someone to take care of you, there is nothing wrong with that, just enjoy it".

Emilee plays quietly with Legos and Adeline lays on the couch sucking her thumb.  I water the plants and gather up Grandma's crocheting supplies, so she can finish up her last afghan when she gets to my mom's.  I ask if there is anything else she needs.  She takes my girls in her arms, one at a time, holding them on her lap.  She comments on their beauty, their growth, the differences in their personalities.  She tells them that she loves them, that they are special.   They smile and beam!

I give Grandma a small squeeze and a kiss.  I tell her I love her, wish her luck on her hospital test, and then, just like a million times before I turn and walk toward the creaky red door, only this time a feeling comes over me half way through the kitchen.  This is it.  This is the last time you will walk away from this familiar scene.  This is the last time you'll see her sitting in her squeaky rust colored chair.   The last time you will hear the T.V. filling in the silence of her lonely home.

I just kept walking refusing to believe it.  I knew Grandma would be coming back with my mom to gather up the rest of her things, and I would be with her then.  I would soak everything in and take millions of mental pictures.  I would be ready then, but not now.

The feeling was right.....and I was wrong.

The next morning when Robert called to tell me he was pulled out of his sleep to the sound of Grandma calling for help, which then turned into her passing out in his arms, her heart stopping on the way to the hospital, the paramedics bringing her back to life and her now lying sedated with tubes down her throat in the hospital, I felt my heart tighten into a painful knot of regret. 

Not just regret about not hugging her one more time, but a much much deeper regret.  I loved my Grandma deeply, but I have a little bit of her stubbornness in me, and sometimes I refused to love with all of my heart.  I held on a little too tightly to hurtful things that had happened in the past.  I was a little too judgmental.  I built a wall, and often justified my luke-warmness, as though somehow she, being imperfect, didn't deserve my complete and generous love.  I kind of kept her at a distance.

As I stood at the side of her hospital bed, I silently thanked the Lord, for his tender mercy.  For allowing me one more chance to show love, to give love.  To say I'm sorry.....to say good-bye.

The tubes were taken out, and Grandma was alert and able to speak in a soft whisper. We spent a long night, gearing up over and over for the end.  We sang songs, all of us, no matter what had happened in the past, we sang for Grandma, we shared memories.....good memories.  We laughed and cried.  We held each other and we held her hands. 

Grandma's heart was a heart that had been broken over and over in her nearly 86 years of life, and now she lay in a bed with a physically broken heart, a heart that was failing and yet I don't think her heart had ever been more filled with love and contentment.  I imagine her silently counting each of her family members.  She always did that at family gatherings.  Grandma loved nothing more than being surrounded by family, and that is exactly how she left this life and I'm sure that is how she was received into the next.

I got to be there.  I walked into her hospital room on Friday April 1, 2011 at 10:25 a.m. and witnessed her last breath.  The room was still, silent and sacred. I cried.

I miss my Grandma, and tomorrow I will go back to her home for the first time.  I am trying to prepare myself.  The empty chair, the silence, the memories.  My lesson in all of this is that holding back......is for the birds.  Loving wholly and completely, even when we are hurt is what God intends for us and in the end the only thing that matters.