Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lessons For Life From Death

I know I haven't blogged in about a week. And the last time I did I promised pictures. Well, I still don't have the pictures I was planning to post. But I do have a post. Will you settle for that?

The last few weeks have been exciting as we've gotten closer to the holidays and spent time with our families celebrating Thanksgiving. But with the joy there has also been much sorrow. In the past two weeks six people who were friends and family of ours or of those we love have died.

Although I only personally knew three of those six people each death brought with it a sorrow all it's own. And as I mourned, prayed, and shed tears for each of these lives I felt within me a nudge to glean from these sad situations. Maybe it was a reminder. I don't know. But I want to share with you what death has been teaching me about life.

I've shared with you before that I have a song that I sing to my kids at bedtime. Well, it started out that way when they were little babies and I rocked them to sleep all the time. But once they were about 4-6 months old we started teaching them to fall asleep on their own. Since I was trying to keep them from needing only me and our routine before they could fall asleep I stopped singing them to sleep.

But when we went camping this last summer I had to help the girls fall asleep since the environment was so strange to them (and there were other people who could hear the screaming!). So after almost two weeks of this Hazel was pretty upset when we got home and I tried to get her to fall asleep on her own again.

At first I struggled with not wanting to start a habit that she wouldn't want to break and the desire to snuggle her for just a few minutes (this girl doesn't sit still for more than a few minutes). I gave in to the snuggling. And I'm glad I did. I really enjoy hearing her ask every night for "my song, Momma!" And then when I am done singing to her she says, "Moowee turn, Momma!" (Millie is short for Amelia) And both girls are pretty good about falling asleep after we are done singing. And we only did this at night time. At nap the girls just go to sleep on their own.

Well a few weeks ago Hazel started asking for, "my song, Momma!" at nap time.And for the first few days I would remind her that we sing our song at night. I didn't want to be starting more habits! And then I got an email with a prayer request from a friend. A former student of his had been in a terrible car accident with her three kids in the car and she, the mommy, didn't survive.

I could hardly read the email. I felt heavy inside. My mind was instantly flooded with the memories and thoughts of my own car accident earlier this year. Although my kids weren't in the car and I wasn't hurt beyond what a good massage and chiropractor can take care of, right after the accident happened I was hysterical thinking about what could have happened to them if they had been with me and what my family would have to go through if something had happened to me. I had to force myself to stop thinking abut the what if's then and I had to do it again when I got that email. I found myself holding my kids a little longer and squeezing them a little tighter.

But it wasn't until Nathan told me about a co-worker who had just lost his 15 month old baby to a rare blood disease that I started to give in to Hazel's request for her song at nap time. How could I refuse? I have my babies. They are healthy and strong. And they have me. Our song takes maybe 5 minutes to sing to both girls. And this isn't a bad habit. And most likely there will come a day when they stop asking for it. Sad.

A few days after all of this one of my parents friends from Africa was shot, robbed and beaten and then had to walk two hours to the hospital where he died from a lack of medical supplies. I was struck by the reality of the quality we have in our American hospitals, lacking though it may sometimes seem. My dad writes of these realities here.

So, as we got closer to the holiday and began making plans for where we would be on what days I got frustrated trying to make all the schedules work. We try to spend time with both sides of our family but we try to spread it out between two days so we can actually visit and be with family instead of eating and running. Our plans were finally settled and we were blessed to find that Nathan didn't have to work the day after Thanksgiving. But I was still frustrated inside and was finding it hard to be excited about the holiday.

At the beginning of this week we found out that my brother-in-law's grandpa, who was like a grandpa to everyone, had a heart attack and wasn't expected to live long. Around the same time we found out that our great grandma, who was known as old, old grandma, had a stroke and also wasn't expect to live long. Then we found out that my step grandma had passed away last week. Both Grandpa Norman and Old, old Grandma Mary passed away Thanksgiving morning. Although I was sad for the families and friends of these dear grandparents I was comforted knowing they are with Jesus and they aren't in any pain.

But I also felt my frustration with the holidays melting. I began to realize that even though we may do more running around at the holidays than I like, we still have family to see and visit with. We have grandparents who don't get to see their grandchildren very much during the year except for these holidays. And while we may choose to change a few things to make the holidays smoother we will still try to make family a priority.

I would love to leave you with an elegant paragraph bringing all my thoughts together. But my sister said it best in her lovely post here on the mixing of life's sorrows and joys. Enjoy.


LaFonda said...

I am so blessed to get the chance to see inside your heart. I agree with you too, that Summer did an amazing job seeing how God mixes the sad things with the times we celebrate. What a beautiful reminder that there is so much to be thankful for even in our sorrow. Love Mom

Steadyongal said...

I love that you are giving in to Hazel's request. You are right that there will be a last time. Thank you for the reminder to look at what we DO have and enjoy the simple moments. Love you Pin.

Lindsey Wiatt Photography said...

Matt and I went to that little babies funeral...I've had to go to two of those this year (for children)..And when Madison dumping powdered sugar on the floor and Cole is crying at my feet and I just want to scream...I think about those Mom's who don't have there baby to love on...So I sit down take a deep a breath and hold them and give them kisses...For those parents would do anything for days like that... Crazy how death makes you think about life and puts your own into perspective.

Balinda said...

Thanks Shiree for that blog! :)
With life being so busy all the time We all need to be reminded about how important little things are. I am also gald you gave into the kids on naptime and bedtime , Them are the memories you all will remember.
Love ya

joettafort said...

This was a lovely read, Shiree. I've been thinking a lot about how few family members will be at grandma's funeral, but now I will feel like you are with us in spirit.

And do sing to your babies all they want! I don't have a voice like yours, but sang to Amanda all the time (you say yes, I say no, you say stop, and I say go, go, go!' when she was arguing with me, 'Oooh, child' when she was upset, on and on) and we still talk about those songs.