Sunday, October 23, 2005

Stuck and kids on the block?

Someday, somehow I have to go through Michael's clothes. It is so odd to look at them...without him in them...the shirts I liked better on him (because they were his "color.") We worry about what we wear...we have our "comfort" know, the ones What Not to Wear would feature should we ever be chosen to be humiliated in front of millions of people. As much as I would have probably joined in the comentary on them, they're now MY comfy clothes.

I was out and about in my own comfy clothes...not having slept well...I looked like I was from MARS...glad that surely no one would recognize me...unless they were from MARS also...anyway, I was thinking that those boxes that one can put together, the ones that have the lids, they would be a good thing to use to sort through things. I can pack some things away to sort at a later time...when the emotions aren't so overpowering.

I went to a new office supply store and these particular boxes were not where the other boxes were. So, being female (sorry...just thought it was fun to add), I asked where I might find the desired item. The helpful lady showed me a "sale" of 4 of the boxes right in the entryway, but took me to the area where there are a few different varieties. I noticed right next to this box area that there was another item which I was in the market for but I needed to ask some questions about it. The lady assured me someone would be along to help me. I stood there staring at the boxes...kind of like a dodo bird.

When we lived in England we used to have this glass dodo bird which was filled with a colored liquid that would move from one end of the bird to the other. When it filled up one side it would become unbalanced and turn back up and the process would start all over. When I convinced myself that I only needed 4 boxes, I would turn to the boxes of 8 and 10. When I convinced myself that 10 would be good...I could use them in Michael's office, too...I turned back to the 4 because I really didn't need to spend the money on 10. After a while I just stood there staring...motionless on the outside with a storm inside. I could say I was just waiting for a sales person to come answer my questions about the other merchandise, but I was really just "stuck."

No one ever came...and time was passing like a greyhound running it's last race. I chose the box of 10 (those who know my frugality would possibly be quite proud of me.) The checkout lady asked if I found everything I needed and I said "Yes, but no one ever came to answer questions about the other item." She was very apologetic...long story short...she rang up a ticket that gave me 10 boxes for the "sale" price of the 4 boxes at the front of the store. I didn't complain, things like that happen...but I guess she wants me to come back.

Will there just be some things in life on which we just get "stuck?" Maybe we just need to let go before there is no more time. What's it worth? A couple of extra bucks? More random thoughts. I suppose I shared this...grateful for the blessing of not spending too much...but also to show how sometimes the thoughts of a grieving person are just random...and to let you have a peek at a "stuck" time. (These are very normal....unless they get to know you by name in the box section.)

Part 2--NEED

This whole entry just shows the randomness of thoughts and the extremes. I was having trouble going to sleep. I had been doing okay in that area. So, I read a book...The Second Summer of the Traveling Pants. I was getting ready to put the book down when this statement hit me. One of the girls said she didn't learn (whatever) this summer, but she did learn to "need" someone else. I felt like I was blindsided and socked in the gut. Learning to NEED. The damn broke. I felt like my whole chest was being turned inside out; vacuumed from the outside in. "Isn't it elementary to need?" I thought.

My journey, now 5 months 1 week, has been like a shuttle launch. There's the shuttle all clean and waiting, the scafolding tucked nicely around her, then, almost without warning, controlled from outside her, the engines begin to roar and the scafolding falls away. She was thrust into the air--barely able to breathe...thousands of people watching every move--there are human
heart(s) in that space ship. I feel hurtled through the atmosphere at break neck speed--in control, but not--having to trust the ground control...enduring the "G" forces...hmmmmm.

After a while a jolt brings the craft to a floating place. "You should see the view from up here." (Ironic statements..LOOONNNNGGG thoughts.) Gaining perspective, communicating with the many watching. They're not so worried now--the craft is in space. The "human factor" is carrying out experiments, etc.

I 'see' the word NEED again. Do I know what it means to NEED someone? Not just on paper, but to show them, to demonstrate...Do I know what it means to NEED God? How much do I need Him? Intellectually I know the answer...everything in me to the core of my being needs Him...but do I live that out? Does that transforming truth come out in my life?

Cazowee--the shuttle is headed back to earth--my sobbing almost sounds backward. Going through the atmoshperic layer (sorry NASA) I understand there is fire. Are my heat shields all in tact? Can I withstand it? I literally felt as though I was being sucked inside out as I cried.

The room was dark except for the clock. 2:47. Another light...indicated the alarm was set. 18 years ago...right around this time in the night...I was on my way to the hospital to have my first baby. Michael was there for me, with me. I needed him. Who's watching now as the shuttle screams toward the earth--it's GOT to be piloted NOW. God, I need You to take over. Space took it's toll. To need You without all the people watching. What do I need???? Am I so prideful that I don't let people know I need them? Or, does my needing it based on what they can contribute to/for me? Have I been so independent in my thinking that my need for others is not about their personhood? Is that why I like individual sports...because the win is about MY abilities?

My first child arrived. He needed me. I don't know where to go from here....still waiting for the landing....I'm stuck again. The speed is slowing down...I'm beginning to see familiar sights of where I live...temporarily...
For my home is in heaven and I need to rest...for now...

I'm so tired. Chalk up the worst night of crying... Deeply grateful for all the recent keep life moving forward. Last of the birthdays tomorrow...I guess it's today. I emptied 2 boxes of "junk." "The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:11

Clinging to Him, needing you,
Annie B.

Monday, October 17, 2005


October 4, 2005

From reflections on camping trip to Calaveras Big Trees

Mine…is there really much we can call “mine?” (“Yours”) Does it come down to the issue of control or perspective or ‘world view?’ I’m frustrated, angry somewhat…and stuck on this one. I had a nice impromptu camping time with some friends this past week. One of my kids was “stuck” on calling something “his.” My mind was racing… "Is this thing worth living/dying over???” IS IT??? Is there much of anything worth living or dying over? What is really important in life? And then we get into the discussion of, “Do we mean life here…as we know it as humans…or are we looking at the bigger picture which is about ETERNAL life?”

For the moments at camp that I was contemplating these questions…loudly and furiously as I ran up the hill through the trees…I fell onto a picture that stirred my soul. “Mine, mine, mine.” These are MY moments. No one can take them from me. I can listen and hear in the moment. What can I call MINE? Memories. They are mine. Relationships. They are mine…some chosen, some just are…by birth…marriage, where one works, etc.

Back to memories. We were all packed up and there was a child issue. I had to get away from it. Michael would have loved this camping trip…playing catch, hiking, making s’mores…talking with friends away from the rat-race of life…

I ran up the hill…crying out to God...eventually stopping to sit on a log. Actually the truth was I was out of breath from running uphill in high (higher than sea level) altitude while crying my guts out. Death and destruction was all around me in this little area. Dead trees still standing…stumps rotted out and burned out…some chewed on and lived in. Lots of sticks…branches sluffed off…bark. I was barking alright. Barking about what couldn’t be MINE any more. I DON’T WANT TO BE A SINGLE MOM. I threw a lot of sticks and big pieces of bark. I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS. I DON'T WANT TO SAY THIS IS MY WALK NOW...breathe...I also don’t want to get in a trap of running to look for someone to fill the emptiness. No one can fill this Michael-shaped hole in my heart.

A couple of Sundays ago I had a difficult time. Song Blessed be His Name. It says near the end, “He gives and takes away.” I was beside myself with the tidal wave of heart understanding of what was taken away…but wanting to grasp for the understanding of what God GIVES….it has to, no it MUST be better than what He takes away. You might think this is like comparing apples and oranges…but it must be like trying to comprehend Romans 8:18…"for the suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared to the glory we will one day receive.” Then WHAT do we do? Laugh it off? Be flippant? (that IS easy to do sometimes…) Or, is there a way THROUGH this that drives us to a deeper place…a soul-searching place of looking/listening for the things “He gives?”

We long for heaven…do we?

He gives…I know He gives. He gives greater grace than I can give…I was so frustrated at the disrespect and deception of my child…and yet this is the child who comes to ask forgiveness…with sincerity and humility. WHAT DO I SAY WHEN I WANT TO CAMP (no pun intended, so maybe DWELL is a better word) ON WHO WAS TAKEN AWAY FROM ME? …WHEN I AM TRYING TO ANSWER THIS CHILD AND I SEE EVERY DAY WHO WAS TAKEN FROM HIM. He wants to say something is “his” because he wants to be in control of something in his world. For a few moments other people don’t matter. What matters most in his mind and emotions is that he can say, “mine.” And it is…the little card…it is his, no matter if there aren’t enough to go around, and, in his mind, it is worth fighting for.

I don’t know where I was headed with this.

“Mine.” He has been taken away. Now I mine for understanding…for a way THROUGH this time...a way to see the Son poking through the trees. There are still many trees alive up here on the hill. There is still this life to be lived. How will I mine my way through it? This choice I do have.

Ps.119…plea to TEACH ME
….for wisdom and judgement….
…..for compassion

Mining takes patience and persistence…(does God give these things??? :) ) Like working with children…and biking up hills without ‘bonking’…learning to spin cycle (at 5:30a.m.)…and working with wood. Thank you, God, for the gifts of Michael’s stories, wood toys, laughter, and love…He was mine and I was his…and we are forever….Yours.

Somehow, someway…with the community here…I will mine my way and, Lord willing, make a difference in this world for You.

Thank you for your tender words of encouragement...especially in this last week. There have been many raw emotions. I lift your journies up to God...knowing He will teach you in yours...just as He is teaching me in mine. We have 2 family birthdays left...both this weekend. One is an 18th. Sigh. Joy. I think I'll take my new "Sisterhood..." DVD and go watch it somewhere...I don't know that I can handle 10+ hours of Lord of the Rings...extended editions...but then again, I wasn't made with that much testosterone!

For those in a season of grief:

Do you wrestle and ponder at times with the juxtapositions of so many feelings? The sun...the moon. The joy in a newly created memory...the scrounging for those old, sacred memories. His presence...the profound absence. The easy question...the cloudy mind.

Be encouraged to journal all your thoughts. I truly believe that over time...the dreaded word...they will get sorted out...maybe not answered...but perhaps in God's gentleness He will untangle the web of thoughts and emotions and continue to reveal Himself to us in our new path. He really does want us to know Him more. (Thanks Dave!)

This is some scratch stuff from a day I was waiting and pondering the polar opposite feelings.

Present Absence
Just as sure as the moon
hangs in the sky each night
So is the surity of God's
constant presence
Sometimes by the light of the moon
the way seems doable
Dark nights can be scary
but the moon IS there
or we would not be!
How distant does God feel sometimes?

Moon far away, but it's presence
affects our world and environment
right here, right now.
Even in the desert there is continual life...
yet the dryness and heat can be overbearing at times.
And rain,
rain can be brutal in those times.

Even in this present absence...
I know
spring will come.

***It just dawned on me...God is pretty technologically astute: He's been "IMing" since the beginning...since... forever. Is He on your IM Buddy list? His name is always lit up.

Randomly pondering, randomly hurting
Constantly knowing...
I M His.
Annie B.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I haven't entered anything recently...been having tougher days mixed in with the "okay" days. I did have a blessing of being able to see a stage version of Anne of Green Gables. Sundays are mostly difficult, but one Sunday I wanted to and managed to be pretty "INCOGNITO." The few people who did find me...were just the right people at the right time. I didn't need a lot of words...just presence. Ironically? one of the ladies has her jaw wired shut. She doesn't even normally sit near where I was...she usually sits upstairs. Hmmmm...

This entry today I wrote around Michael's birthday last month. I haven't wanted to share much because I'm just plain sad sometimes. I know each day/moment is just another piece. Someone asked me today, "Does it feel sometimes like it's two steps forward, one step backward?" Yes. She knows...she lost both her parents very close together.

I think loss sometimes puts us close to people we wouldn't necessarily run into/connect with at other times. I found out her husband used to ride with Michael. More pieces.

Quilts are usually made up of pieces. My paternal grandmother, whom I never met, made a quilt for my Aunt Eleanor and Uncle Wilson for their wedding. It is made out of flour sack material…just cream and faded orange stripes… perhaps that is all she had to work with in those days. I assume the stitching was done by hand…and it is impeccable. It must have been done with a lot of patience and consistency. My Aunt was 23 years older than my dad…she just passed away a few years ago. I was so thankful to have acquired the quilt through her estate auction. Another Aunt put a new binding on it. I’m glad it didn’t slip out of the hands of our extended family...treasured pieces….I guess I’m funny about things like that….you know, passing things down from generation to generation. When it comes to character being passed down...that can be a negative or a positive thing.

Some quilts are appliquéd….things “put on” a piece….stitched on…grafted it? Just thinking...

What makes something a “quilt?” Is it the layers or the stitching that holds all the layers together? Usually the back is one piece of fabric or one pattern. I wonder if in our lives we need one thing to be the under riding purpose, etc.? (Wonder Under??? :)) The quilting is usually clearly seen as a unified picture on the back while on the front it is usually hidden by the different pieces and patterns on the fabric.

I finished my daughter’s quilt last Christmas. It is a design I thought of in college…why? I don’t know. I call it “hearts in my pocket.” I bought the fabric to make it for my oldest…who is graduating from high school in May. I eventually decided the fabric was too “girly” anyways. (Was that because it didn’t near completion until I had a GIRL…who would even care???) I worked on it some when my oldest was a toddler. My mother-in-law actually helped me with some of the early piecing. In the meantime she made Michael and me a quilt.

I took a “quilting hiatus” for a few years…being thankful that the fabrics had not gotten musty. I was using calicoes and old blue jeans.

When I came here to this town I met some more quilters. Kathi helped me get re-started on my seemingly eternal project. I was so grateful. I was actually a tad short on some of my pieces of material (my overall pattern was extended a little bit). Kathi ‘just happened’ to have some of my material…that I had purchased almost 15 years earlier. I worked on the quilt when I could. About a year and a half later I needed help again…especially to learn how to quilt the sides. Kathi ‘just happened’ to have one of these new swanky rolls of stick-on patterns…with hearts!!! Another friend, a fellow recent widow, was able to stitch it for me and put the edge on before I slip-stitched the binding and was able to say, “I’m done!” “My” quilt ended up being put together by a few different hearts and hands…but it is one piece.

If you were to look at the stitching on the back there are some rows that are even and smooth. Michael’s very dear friend Linda from college did some of that part for me. She’s a quilter. She has made many, many quilts…including a square for the Whitehouse Christmas tree!! My stitching is too tight in some places and too loose in others….(a quilt judge would not be too impressed..) The overall quilt though is pretty neat…even if I say so myself. I couldn’t have done it without those that helped me. At times it SOOOO overwhelmed me and I thought I would never finish. It is a sweet treat to go in and see it covering up my daughter…or to see the little stuffed animals poking out of the pockets.

On Michael’s birthday a gift arrived in the mail. It was a quilt from his college buddy…for me. Earlier in the summer she had written a neat letter about their college days and her ‘checking out’ every date Michael had. When he called her about me she was very protective (she was already married…:) ). Long story short, we became kindred spirits the first time we met. The quilt she made me has Michael’s personality. It is unordered and yet has a pattern. It is made of different textured materials and tones. The back is like a swirling ocean…but it is one finished piece. A patch on the back reads:
For my friend Annie B.
in loving memory of Michael B.
1 Peter 5:11 NASB
2 Corinthians 13:11-12 NIV
September 15, 2005

I am blessed. I am comforted. I am covered. Another piece. Linda also did something very special for each of my children. (On a side note…Linda and her husband John were able to visit us 2 weeks before Michael left on his journey…Who could put those pieces together???? I do not know what I would have done if I had to call her and tell her the news if she had not been here so recently.) Not too long after Michael’s journey a box of 4 teddy bears arrived. Each one was different and had a note attached to it. Each note was written to a different child and shared a different story about Michael and a blessing of how that child
has character qualities of their dad.

As I reflect on May 14th, I will never forget the ‘blanket of sovereignty’ that I felt was laid on me. Each day, each new experience is a piece in my healing

And that gives me PEACE. He (Jesus) says about peace, “ Peace I leave with you; My peace I give thee, not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27 “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 A place for peace…a way to get there…a provision…a covering…

The more I see the way God “puts the pieces together” for me…I am amazed and awed. Please pray for us...we have 3 more birthdays to get through this month...and then the holidays. I know for most grieving people...those are difficult times. I am thankful for my friend who reminded me that I can't live in those days...I need to live today. Just today. I get to see some long-time special friends this week. I DO look forward to that.

And to you, peace.

Annie B.

Each of the ladies that helped me on “my” quilt have major mountains in their lives…but God is using those mountains to draw them closer to Himself…and the closer they grow toward Him, the more they reflect Him…He IS the Light of the World.