Ending Cycles and Renewal Ahead

A friend of mine told me that when you lose one parent, you are still okay, because you still have the other one.  You hurt, you grieve, but you have someone to share it with and you still have that foundation of where you began.  When the other parent dies then your world is shaken.  When the other parent is gone then you lose a large bit of your soul, your heart and your identity.

I did not experience this at first even though it was only two and a half months between when both of my parents passed away.  No, I went through the gut punches of grief when it knocks you to the floor now and then out of the blue, I have felt lost at times, but that has gradually gotten better.

The actual experience like my friend described hit me in the month of May.  May, the month I was born, and Mother’s day.  It is also the month that see’s the end of another school year. 

It was a humbling thing to realize I would never again celebrate my birthday with my mom.  My birthdays have never been grand or a big deal anyway, but mom always made it a point to make a cake, get a mushy card and a gift of some kind.  She made sure we all did something on THE DAY, not when it was convenient later. 

I found myself distraught on my birthday and the days that followed.  Unable to stop the tears and such a great sense of loss that just would not go away and a heart that felt deeply wounded all over again.  Then in a moment of great sadness I opened a drawer while unpacking and ran across a card.  A birthday card from my mother, it was from last year I think, but it still made me smile. 

This month has proven to be one of the hardest months I have ever lived through.  The passing of time has been so present, so prominent starting with my birthday and ending the month with my oldest daughters’ graduation.  It is a bittersweet time for all of us, as she is having a difficult time with the grief too and fighting back tears that her grandparents won’t be there to see her graduate. 

Yet, it is a time of renewal too because just as it is a notable end to some cycles in this life, the month also marks the beginning of a new cycle, the start of a new path for both of my daughters and myself. 

My oldest daughter will be walking the stage to say goodbye to high school and onto a path of her own choosing including college and the adult choices that she will face along the way.

My youngest daughter is graduating 8th grade and will start her journey through high school and preparing for her future and the dreams she holds dear.

I spent the better part of last week in a muddle, second guessing things I had no real business second guessing because – guess what – my friend was right, you do indeed seem to lose a part of your identity with the loss of both parents.  So it became a time of meditation, prayer, wise counsel, and choosing to remain true to the path I have chosen.

So the hardest month became the darkest tunnel, and now with the beginning of June in sight, the light is shining again.  We go forward, we press on, and we will walk through until we reach the other side and find ourselves, our dreams and each other again.

Cherry Coley ©

Visualization, Meditation and Healing for the Journey

So many times we are asked to give, then expected to keep going though we’ve grown weary and worn.  As a caregiver and mom there were times the weight of carrying that kind of load seemed so heavy.  Yet what do you do, you must keep going.

Many times I found myself trying to juggle being an only parent with running errands for my parents and falling short of getting everything done.   Many times I’d go to bed and lie awake thinking of all the things I didn’t get done, couldn’t do and couldn’t afford.

You can wear yourself out taking care of others and everything that you know needs to get taken care of, but if you don’t take time to rest and take care of yourself, then you will suffer emotionally, physically, even mentally.

So it became that it was in the darkest moments that I sought solitude.  Alone, I could meditate and pray for strength, sit under the moonlight, feel the cool night air.  Meditation has been my saving grace in so many ways.  I was taught to meditate by an Indian woman when I was 10 years old.

She noticed right away I was a very visual person.  She taught me that when life becomes too heavy, you meditate, focus and see the darkness like liquid smoke, surrounding you, then let it begin to turn to liquid running down and seeping into the earth at your feet until you no longer feel the burden.

I also learned to meditate by walking and when I had Nacona – my malamute – we would walk about 12 miles a night.  Exercise and especially walking is a terrific way to relieve stress and do some mobile meditation.  I learned to see my troubles left like wet foot prints on the pavement behind me as I walked.  I don’t claim to be an expert, I’m just stating a few things that have worked for me.

Now days I look back and see how much I missed by trying to be so many things to so many people.  I should have been taking more time for myself, it would have benefited both me and my kids.  They say hindsight is 20/20, I am not sure about that, but I will try to help my children not to make the same mistakes. 

Caregivers, mentors, and parents are the heart of the world, trying hard to hold the balance, keep the peace and make sure nothing is forgotten.  Yet the one thing we seem to forget is ourselves, then later when the job is finally done there are regrets in some ways and a lot of ground to make up in others.  There is a period of feeling lost, like you’re coming out of a dark tunnel into the daylight and suddenly you have to adjust your eyes and try to figure out where you are.

I have learned to tell myself that I did the best I could with the information and resources I had at the time.  I didn’t always succeed, I wasn’t always right, I’m not the perfect parent, I did fail now and then, I missed out a lot, but still, I did my best as far as it goes.  I’m good with that.  Now on to the next phase of the journey, but where do I start?  Ah, yes….meditation.

Cherry Coley ©

 

Parenthood Is A Gift

I’ve often heard the saying that many men can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.  I think this is true, just as it’s true that many women can be a mother, but it takes someone special to be a mom. 

Being a parent is about so much more than genetics and just having a child.  The truth is that a baby changes everything.  Suddenly you are more aware of your surroundings, and things you just walked by before, or barely gave a passing glance, are now items you carefully consider, pick up, throw away, or even lock up so they won’t cause harm.

Suddenly sleep becomes a fleeting thing of great value.  Naptime is guarded at all costs.  Time alone is almost unheard of, even in the restroom; there might be that hesitant knock and tiny fingers probing under the door. 

The pitter patter of little feet was pretty much just toddler stage for us, after that it was stomping, jumping, tap dancing, and skipping.  The tuner for inside voices didn’t work too well most of the time either. 

Then there’s the kid who has to test what you mean when you say “no.”  They push the buttons, turn the knobs, tight rope walk across the back of the couch, build a “castle” with the cushions from the couch and chairs, play fort with the coffee table and kitchen table, try to flush the cat down the toilet, and see if Dr. Pepper will make the dog hyper.  These kids are the creative one’s that we want to both throttle and encourage because they will pave the way to the future.

My youngest daughter is one of these kids that just has to try it to see what will happen.  She tried to swing on a water hose from a tree and unfortunately, another little girl jerked the hose away as she leaned out, causing her to fall and break her leg.  She spent the better part of 5th grade year in a cast.  I painted a dragon on the cast to try to help with the awkward feeling of being a kid in a cast.

Then there are the reasoning kids who want to know the in’s and out’s of how things work so they can decide what to do and how to do it, my oldest daughter is my super analytical child of reason.

 It’s funny how God has such a sense of humor that He takes half our personality and places it in one kid and half in another.  They are night and day different from each other, but both like their parents.  It will definitely keep you on your toes and keep life interesting.  Whatever the case, motherhood and fatherhood are the greatest gifts.

 Cherry Coley ©

Walking in the Darkness

photo by Casey Keal
 

People handle grief in all kinds of different ways.  Not only that, but there are cycles to it and a process of healing that you go through that is intense and just plain hurts.

When you lose someone you were close too, a hole is ripped in your heart.  There’s a vacancy that just can’t be filled.  When you lose more than one person in a short time, the world becomes a very dark place very quickly.  You will, without any choice in the matter, experience all the gifts grief brings with it including: regrets, second guessing, confusion, forgetfulness, feeling lost, anger, and that urge to call that person that just won’t go away.  There hasn’t been a day since mom and dad have been gone that I haven’t wanted to pick up the phone and call them to check on them or share some news with them. 

 I went through the wondering what would have happened if….stage.  That one was probably the hardest for me. The “what if’s” and “why” questions tormented me for days, especially at night.  Even two days ago I remembered something else that I used to do for mom, that I know she had forgotten to keep doing.  Would it have made a difference?  There’s no real useful purpose in even letting the mind wander along those lines.  What’s done is done and God doesn’t make mistakes, it was their time to go and that’s that. 

 I have over the years walked dark paths with my friends as they lost loved one’s, friends, parents, family members, but going through it yourself is quite different.  I had been trying to function as normal after my dad passed away in September.  I still went through the pains of grief, but kept going and forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other and made a point of calling mom several times a day to check on her and hear her voice. 

When mom passed away in December, all the order, organized thoughts, daily routines and even habits that were a normal part of my life went right out of the door.  I felt so completely thrown off kilter that there are some days, while I know I got things done, I don’t really remember doing them or even the days.  There were plenty of times when I felt a giant darkness invade my soul, knock me to the floor – sometimes literally – and threaten to drag me down into a depression that I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull out of. 

 Since my life has read much like a horror novel for many years along the way, darkness and I are old friends.  I embraced feeling everything, even the vast empty dark, but didn’t allow myself to set up residence there.   I knew then as I know now that brighter days will come again.  Even now the pain is nowhere near as intense as it once was.  I still miss both of them and there are days when I still cry all of a sudden because of some memory or thought that hits me out of the blue.  I allow myself to cry, because I am human.  I am thankful for several very close friends who took the time to come over and just be there.  I can’t claim that I was entertaining or good company at all, but they just came and didn’t necessarily talk a lot, sometimes we didn’t talk at all, but they were just there.  Thank you!!

 I recently saw this in an email a co-worker sent me:

A four-year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman had recently lost his wife.  Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. After awhile he hugged the man and went back home to his mom.  When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,

Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

 When I read that, I thought, EXACTLY!!  Sometimes, we don’t need platitudes, no one really knows what to say anyway and we all know that.  You don’t really want to hear someone tell you “they are in a better place,”  mainly because the place you wish they were, is here with you, no matter how selfish that may be.  Sometimes, we just need someone to be there and help us cry.  Never under-estimate the good you do when you take the time to “just be there.” 

 Cherry Coley ©

A Word About Legacies

Company Picnic

I have made my niche in Life Coaching about inspiring people to create their legacies.  I continue to believe that this is so very important.  I had asked my mom and dad repeatedly to write down or even record the stories from their childhood and life together.   They never really got around to it, but mom thought about it a lot. 

Aunt Marlene and Mom

Their whole generation of our family is now gone.  It is up to the children to gather photos, gather information, and try to write down memories so that so much of that era in our family is not forgotten or simply lost.  A legacy is so much more than just monetary and items.  A legacy is about family, friends, experiences, memories, and so much more.  It is a goal of mine to leave my children with rich legacies not just of “stuff,” but of loving memories, shared and passed down. 

I did not ask my parents much advice or for much of anything this last year, however, I did talk to them every day, and after dad passed away in September, I talked to my mom sometimes two or three times a day.  I did not get to spend the time with her that I wished I could have.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I have some regrets, I think that everyone has some when you lose someone.  

I had spoken to my mom just a few minutes before she passed away on Monday, Dec. 12th.  She had not been feeling well and when we all tried to call her back to check on her she never answered the phone.  She had already changed residences, we just didn’t know yet. 

The days following mom’s passing proved to be nerve wracking and emotionally almost impossible.  I kept longing to call her over the smallest things.  The feeling and “want” would not be satisfied no matter how much I told myself she was gone.  So I did the only thing that made sense to me.  I started a journal just for her called “Dear Mom.”  So for every time I wanted to pick up the phone and call her I would pick up my journal instead and write to her.  It helped some because I was (in a sense) talking to her, though I could no longer hear her replies. 

I am not sure where this journal will lead, whether it will just be a personal thing, or whether I will later share it with others as a sort of tribute or memorial to my mom.  Right now it is an outlet that allows me to deal with not being able to talk directly with her.  As the days go by it has been a way for me to work through the grief, cloudy days and heal. 

I know there are brighter days on the horizon, but it will take a bit for the sun to shine my way again.  Either way I will make sure my children remember. 

Casey and Lindsey

Cherry Coley (c)

Your Legacy, Have You Thought About It?

 

 

Have you ever thought of what kind of legacy you’re leaving? 

Definition of LEGACY

1: a gift by will especially of money or other personal property : bequest 2: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past the legacy of the ancient philosophers. Miriam Webster

 

It’s just my personal opinion, but I think there is so much more to leaving a legacy. 

 The time you spend with your loved ones each and every day, the dreams you share, the life lessons that you have experienced along the way, are just part of the legacy you will leave to your children, your family, and friends.

So many times in this modern world we rush through life from job, to home, to errands and family activities.  There are so many distractions available and we run through life at a speed that doesn’t leave much time for personal reflection, meditation or growth unless we make a point of deliberately creating the space for these things in our lives.  Learning to balance work and home life is a struggle that has been in existence ever since jobs have been in existence. 

Everyday there is a constant barrage of commercials, ads, and every kind of media that assaults us from the moment we open our eyes and ears in the morning, to the moment we close them at night.  It’s important to make sure that when we are spending time with the people that matter to us, we turn off the cell phones, put aside the distractions and be present so everyone will enjoy and remember the moments that are being created on this journey.  How sad for some that the memories will be filled with someone texting at the table, or watching the television while another was trying to express something important to them.

My father passed away in September of this year, and I can’t help but realize how very short life is and how limited the time we have to spend with each other may be.  If I have any regrets it’s that while I did spend many hours as a child sitting beside my dad and listening to his stories of growing up, fighting in WWII, and working, I did not spent as much time as I could have catching up on different things going on in his life.  I still look for him at times, expect to hear his voice, or to see him sitting on the couch at mom’s house. 

My grandmother used to speak in rhyme and verse all the time.  She also told many wonderful stories using nature to teach important life lessons.  I loved to follow her around her house and listen to her.  She seemed to have an answer for everything, or at least a funny saying or poem on the subject.

Legacies are really so much more than money or things.  I have decided to write and illustrate many of the stories my grandmother and dad shared with me growing up.  Those stories were their legacy to me and I can’t think of a better way to honor them than to recreate them and share them with others. 

Take a moment today to think about what kind of legacy you are in the process of creating, because whether you intend to or not, you are creating one.  Then take a moment to decide what kind of legacy you would like to create, to leave for your family, friends and perhaps even share with others.  We all leave our mark on this world, some of us live very quietly and pass through without making deep impressions, or so we think.  Realize that each and every person has people in their lives that they touch each day.  Just as you are affected by the people that surround you, so too do you affect them.  Much like the ripples on the water, starting from a tiny point of contact, all it takes is a small touch, and the ripples grow and spread out reaching further than we realize.

Cherry Coley ©