Tuesday, December 28, 2010

second christmas

christmas #2 without Jarronn has come and gone. and we all managed through it. there really is something to getting through "the firsts," and i'm glad that we've done that and made it through half of our "seconds" as well. but the big days and holidays aren't completely easy either. they still come with moments of longing. and with unspoken--yet understood--words between the family. and the underlying knowledge that we're trying to make the best of what we have.

christmas dinner was small and held at my house. this was a big improvement from last year when i neglected to put up a single holiday decoration or feel an ounce of christmas cheer. and i was thankful for the improvement in my attitude. i cooked. did some decorating. and even baked my christmas cookies (something Jarronn loved).

most of the day was fantastic -- enjoying the time with my parents and Jarronn's immediate family. exchanging beautiful and thoughtful gifts. watching football and taking post-meal naps on the couch. we went through old photos and snapped some new ones.

the biggest snag came with me cooking a leg of lamb that didn't seem to be turning out as well as i had hoped. when i cook for other people, i take it pretty seriously. so the thought of christmas dinner turning into a bust had me stressed. it also had me missing how Jarronn loved cooking the entire meal for thanksgiving and christmas dinners. filling his shoes can sometimes be really, really tough.

and that, of course, applies to more than just food prep. there's the friend shoes. the sibling shoes. the cousin shoes. the godparent shoes. and the child shoes. all big. all hard to fill. none really possibly to fill. but i wish i could. i really, really wish i could.

i am, however, thankful for what i can do. bring our families together. carry on his memory. find new joys in life. and prayerfully make it through the rest of "the seconds," "the thirds," "the fourths," and so on.

i pray you and yours had a merry christmas! and Jarronn would want me to wish you a happy kwanzaa too!

Monday, December 13, 2010

in loving memory

wow. it's been three weeks since i've blogged, which is much longer than i prefer. but it's been for good reason. i started a new work assignment, and it's been keeping me busy.

last monday, Jarronn's parents, brother, and i planted a memorial holly bush in Jarronn's honor. this is signficiant for a few reasons. first, while Jarronn and i and his family all felt/feel that cremation was what we wanted after he died, it does mean that we aren't really left with a place, like a grave site, where we can visit to remember and reflect on Jarronn. and while i spread some of Jarronn's ashes in our special spot in jamaica, i obviously can't visit that site on a regular basis. when one of Jarronn's friends had told me that he visited the site of his accident after he had passed, the idea didn't really sit well with me. that we would remember him at the place where things took a turn for the worse. and so since late last year, i've been trying to arrange for a space within close proximity, with beauty, and with a connection to Jarronn.

i'm happy to say that we planted the bush at woodend sanctuary -- the place where we got married. steps down from the grove and alter where we exchanged our vows and were surrounded by the love and support of our friends and family, is a small, young holly bush. it has just a few branches and just a few red berries, but i'm praying that it grows and flourishes, provides a snack for the birds, and provides a peaceful reminder on the days when i vist there and sit on the nearby bench.

we kept it small and intimate - just the four of us -- because it felt easier and right that way. we used our hands to grab handfuls of dirt and plant the bush, carefully patting the dirt into place and introducing the bush to its new home. talking to Jarronn along the way.

after the tree was planted, i read from khalil gibran's "the prophet." on our wedding day, in that same place, my mother had read the poem about marriage from "the prophet." last monday, i read the poem about death.

Than Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."

And he said:

You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.


that stanza in bold got me that day and seems to get me every time.

we each took some time to say a few words. some that were positive and some that were still questioning of God's purpose and plan. some that were happy about what we'd done in Jarronn's memory and some that were pain-filled as thoughts turned to how much life has changed since he died. Jarronn's brother, theo, even noted how the bush's branches looked like they were arms outstretched, ready to give a hug.

and i couldn't help but think about how much woodend, on a cold december day, looked a lot different from our may 15 wedding.

but it also looked a lot like the fall 2008 day when i brought Jarronn there to show him the place where i envisioned us getting married. and us looking up at the tall trees together, looking at the deer nearby, and thinking about our future.

when i go back to visit, and sit on the bench by his holly bush, i'm going to do all of those things. look up at the trees. watch the deer in the distance. smile about my past. and think about my future.