Oct 29, 2012


If you're expecting another post about green hills and sheep, let me do you a favor and gently direct you away for now.

For those of you who haven't heard yet and are concerned, there's been a death in my family.
A few cousins and me.  The story goes that they used to put on plays and I wanted so badly to be involved...so they gave me the pink ribbons and let me run around.  Ladies and gentlemen, my family.
She's not in this photo, because I will cry if I have to see her face...but this is her home.  She is one of the most important people in my life.  I will not use the past tense, primarily because I'm not convinced that the past tense is necessary.  If you want more detail than this, ask.  And look, friends - I know this blog is supposed to be about my experience of being abroad, but this intrusion is now part of that experience.  So if you will, allow me a bit of flexibility, because things aren't following the rules I set out in August.

These words have been brewing since yesterday afternoon, when I crawled into my bed and decided not to leave until I was good and ready.

See, some of you have been spouting platitudes like "be calm", "be strong", "get out of bed and eat something" - and my personal favorite, "God isn't mean" - and I'll thank you to lean in close and listen up.

You may be right.  You may be wise.  And I don't doubt that you mean well.

But please, stop it.  Now.

You are not helping me.  In fact, I'm throwing things at you - hard - in my mind.  And if you keep it up, I will throw real things at you when I get home.  That's a promise.  You don't want to mess with this girl when she's angry.

I hear what you're not saying - that I'm not the most entertaining, uplifting conversationalist at the moment.  And that I haven't been that person for some time.  The time preceding my trip here was itself a season of (different) unbelievable hurt and putting myself back together with tape and glue.  I convinced myself to take Ann's advice and count God's gifts because I thought gratitude would be a lovely way to help myself up and out.  And it was working - as the dust settled and I settled, I began to sift through the damage, unearth some places of healing, and remember that my normally-wonderful God is close to the brokenhearted.  And now my heart, battered once already, is breaking all over again.  The cracks never had a fighting chance.

I am miles away from everyone I need as yet again, I navigate the experience of feeling everything.  Yep, I feel everything, all the time - like it or not, that's how God made my heart.  And as furious as I am with Him right now, a small voice ventures, firmly, that when He made my heart, He did it beautifully.  Perfectly.  That small voice insists that God made no mistakes with this heart, even as it grieves and aches.

So please don't imply that my heart isn't enough...that I'm not doing this the right way, that I "need" to buck up.  If you care, pray, because I have more tears and headaches than words and maybe you could contribute some of what's missing.  Take care with those words of yours.  Please be my friend - not my judge.  And here's one practical thing you can do: send music.  Sing, play, YouTube, whatever...I need some music.  I've been glued to my Pandora in an effort to distract myself from the sounds of my crying jags - and the horribly quiet moments between them.  And it's been helpful, Pandora...but music from those I love would be the best.

For those of you who know my mother, I promise you my deep gratitude if you take care of her, especially while I'm stuck here.  (The funeral is tomorrow, and she'll be back in a week.)  Some suggestions: hug her as often as you can.  Listen to her when that's important, and give her space to be quiet and rest, too.  Cry with her.  Let her just be.  Remind her that she's loved, that she's not alone, and that we will walk with her as she takes all the time she needs.  And Mum, if you ever end up reading this, I'm so, so sorry that the last time I spoke to you, I didn't tell you I loved you before we hung up.  I do, though.  Your girl loves you more than you know, and has been waiting to see you since she left.  Okay?  I sent a kiss into the sky when I guessed you might be flying over Galway.  Know that I haven't stopped thinking about you, and in 47 days, we will go straight to Panera and lean on each other and share one of those unreasonably large coffees.  (Yes, I'll share my coffee with you.)  My treat.

For my fellow East Coasters, a few suggestions: watch the driving rain, drink cocoa (if that's your thing), and relish the quiet as the storm blows through.  If the power goes out, take advantage of that "unplugged" time and be present with your loved ones.  Find your parents, tell them you love them - and then say why you do.  Try to put aside whatever history may be clogging your pipes.  Say the words, no matter what went imperfectly yesterday or the day before.  Don't wait until you're the perfect child, or until you have time.  Don't wait.

Goodness knows I wish I hadn't.

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