Love Wins

For years after my first divorce I struggled with letting people take advantage of me.  I was like the carpet by the front door, wipe your feet on it and walk in.

After so many years of being told that I would never amount to anything, I was stupid, unworthy, to fat, to ugly, basically a worthless human, I struggled with not only finding out who I was and what I liked but also that I was worthy and deserved love.

Bottom line, I was deeply wounded and finding my own voice, strength and worthiness.  Learning to love myself and that woman I saw in the mirror was a long and arduous journey.  It was not a journey that was completed over night.  In fact, it has been a daily journey for over 27 years.

There are setbacks, then leaps forward and the cycle continues on and on, over and over again.  It only takes someone to use the right combination of words to throw me back.  I call them triggers.

These triggers can and do rock my world.  They bring back the fear I had for my own survival and ultimately they make me feel insecure and inept.

Recently, I went through an ordeal where I not only felt unwanted, hated, and so many other things but worse than that I felt unworthy.  I felt as though I had no strength, no voice, no way of figuring life out anymore.  This time was different though, this time it was caused by deep, buried grief. I held on.  After burying my head under the blankets for 3 weeks I got up and started again.

My heart was shattered, my body felt as though it had been beaten, my mind was numb but I didn’t quit and I began searching.  I searched for my voice as well as my strength.  I knew it was there.  I knew I would survive but would I ever be whole again?  Would I love this new me?  Would I love that woman in the mirror again?

When my life gets turned upside down I turn to Spirit.  Spirit is where my faith lies and thus far in life Spirit has never let me down.  Oh don’t get me wrong, I have had many disappointments because things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to but always the final outcome is better than even I can imagine.

Over the last 23 years I have worked very hard to be an example to my son Jeremy.  I wanted him to have love beyond words and a mom he could be proud of.

A mom who showed strength in the face of adversity, who could overcome the obstacles in front of her.  A mom who spoke her truth and stood strong in that truth.  I wanted him to know and understand love, but more importantly I wanted him to know and understand compassion.

I wanted him to know and understand that no matter what gifts life gives him he is no better than anyone else that lives and breathes.  I wanted him to know that prejudices against others because of race, sexual orientation or any other divisive issue breeds hate and hate kills the soul.  He needed to know that we are all equal regardless of who we are and what we believe.

I needed and wanted to be an example to him as a woman who had a deep, abiding faith in Spirit.

I never wanted him to see me a total wreck. I failed at this after 23 years of striving to succeed.  He saw me fall utterly and completely apart.  Do you know what I learned?

I learned that my son has grown up to be everything I had hoped for!  He was strong when I was weak.  He was kind, caring and compassionate.  Never once did he waiver in his love.  He helped me pick the pieces of myself up and encouraged me to find my own way in putting those pieces back together. No judgment, no anger, just love.

I am back, a little bit tattered but when I look in the mirror I am happy with the woman I see again.

Here is the thing.  I know they say after your spouse dies you should not make life changing decisions for 6 months to a year.  This is really great advice. Sometimes though life happens.  You need or have to make decisions for you well being so you can survive.

I believe you have to trust that everything is unfolding just as it should.  Love finds a way to your heart and then your heart gets broken again.  If never given the chance, never being open to it, how do you you if you can love again or trust another? Having my heart broken made me grieve for all I had lost.  It also showed me the strength I carry within.  It changed me.  Life is all about changes right?  Nothing ever stays exactly the same from one moment to the next.

I not only survived it I came out of it all with a knowledge that I can love again.  More than that I want to love and be loved again.  I never imagined that I would ever feel that way again.  I had love, I lost love and my life was just about getting to the end, until I realized how much love I truly have to still give.  So many lessons in such a short time.  I find it amazing.

I don’t “need” anyone.  I instead stand in choice.  One of the things I learned in my training was that everything we do is done in choice.  We live in choice.  This is a beautiful way of seeing life.  It is all about taking responsibility for our actions and be conscious of our choices.  Knowing why we are doing what we are doing and trusting that our intuition is right rather than delaying everything and then blaming others for our bad decisions.  I have made many bad choices in my lifetime.  I own them all.  They were mine and only mine.

Anyway, I choose to love again.  I choose to be open to see where the road leads me. I choose love and in my heart I know that love will find a way.  It always does.

My belief is that Spirit brings you to the people who will make you stand up and be your best self.  Spirit offers you the opportunity and the lesson and how you choose determines how you grow.

I believe deep down inside each of us we want to love and be loved.  Many times we have been so hurt and had failed relationships that we are afraid to jump. We live in fear that the other person won’t love us.  We fear that we won’t be good enough.  We fear.  For me my triggers start to come alive again.  What if I am not worthy?  What if I am not good enough?

And then something amazing happens, the self talk goes away and I remember that I am worthy and I love that woman in the mirror.  I have worked long and hard over the years to know who I am and what I want.  I have stood in my truth when it has cost me more than most are willing to lose.  I have been all of the things I had hoped to show my son a woman can be.  I realize that I am love and no matter what someone else chooses to believe I am more than worthy.  It is true freedom when you love the person you are and trust that what is brought to you is going to be perfect just the way it is.

I don’t need to change him.  I can love him just the way he is.  I can love with all of my heart.  I can jump because regardless of what fear there may be I trust my heart and I trust that Spirit is leading me exactly where I need to be.  I am jumping.  I am giving it my all and nothing less.  Because that is me.  I don’t know how to be anything other than that.  If it is to much or not enough I can look in the mirror and know that I offered all that I am with no conditions.  Love wins either way.

I believe we all make mistakes.  I have made many.  With that said though I also believe in second and third chances.  As many as it takes to make things right in our hearts.  I believe in forgiveness.  To me forgiveness is a form of love, whether you have to forgive yourself or someone else.  The act of forgiveness is an act of love.

Ultimately, we all live in choice.  We choose if we are going to be kind and compassionate.  We choose if we are going to forgive ourselves or others.  We choose whether we will be lonely.  We choose happiness.  We choose to never give up on someone and ourselves.  We choose if we will open up and love again.  We choose what our life will be filled with, pain or joy.  We choose.  What choices will you make?

In Her Service,

Sage

Many Lifetimes, One Life

I had a life, once.  Actually, looking back over the years it seems that I have had many lives in this lifetime.  Do you ever feel that way?  Do you ever look back on your life and say to yourself, “That was a lifetime ago?”

This morning I met with a new friend to deliver books she had purchased.  While we were talking I was telling her a bit about the book stand she bought.  In our home it had history and I always feel people should know the history of items.  You see my books have been a part of my family for many years and so has most of the items I am currently selling.  They each have their own history and personality.

Anyway, after telling her how we used the stand she asked me if I was sure I wanted to part with it.  It was a stand I used during ritual and one Mike used when he did handfastings. My answer was yes.  Actually my answer was more than yes.  It was more along the lines of it is all about letting go.

After we parted ways I started thinking about this letting go business.  You hear it said over and over, just let it go, but what does that really mean?  You can’t undo the things that have happened so how do you just let them go?  I can completely understand letting go of items but sitting and thinking about it made me realize that letting go of items is not so easy either.  Our society determines your success by the items you have.  Letting them go means what? Where will that put you in the standing of keeping up with the Jones’?

This train of thought led me to the opening of this.  I had a life, once.  Actually many.  You see I can look back on my life and see many treasured items.  Each of them held a memory.  Each treasure had a portion of my life attached to it.  Yet, none of these lives or the person who lived it really exists anymore.  I know that makes no sense, after all, I am writing this right now so how could they not exist? I guess technically you are right.  I am the summation of all of these lives and I am still here living so somewhere deep inside of me all of these people still exist.

Here is the thing though. I am no longer that infant girl whose biological father didn’t want her because she was a girl. She is gone.  She has grown up.

I am no longer the sexually abused little girl who grew up in a wonderful home with a kick ass family with a dad who chose her and made her his daughter.  I dreaded my summers because that meant I had to find a way to protect myself and my sister from the man we called grandpa.  I protected her just fine but somehow I didn’t do so well on protecting myself.  I am no longer her.  I healed those wounds.  They no longer affect me.  She is gone.  She has grown up.  The truth has been told and life goes on.

I am no longer the teenager who dreamed of becoming a forest ranger but instead got married at the age of 16.  I am no longer that girl that had her first child at the age of 18 and then found herself in an abusive marriage.  I am not that 24 year old woman that lost her heart when she lost her son’s. I am no longer that 24 year old woman who cried herself to sleep every night and found that alcohol would numb the pain.  I am no longer that 24 year old woman who lived in fear for her life.  She has been healed.  She has grown up.

I am no longer that 25 year old woman who fell head over in heels in love with a man named Brian but ultimately ran because she loved him to much.  She left because it was the only way to keep her tattered, beaten heart from being totally destroyed.  She protected herself but at the same time she lost herself. Instead she drove 1,500 miles when her grandma called and said “I need you.”

I am no longer that 25 year old woman that came home because her best friend, her grandma, needed her only to have her best friend die 6 weeks later.  I am not that woman anymore.  I am no longer angry at my best friend.  She has been healed.  She has grown up.

I am no longer that 27 year old woman who lost her only daughter.  I am no longer that woman who turned away from her beliefs because she was told to get over losing all 4 of her children because it “was God’s will and I just needed to move on.” No, I am no longer that woman.  That woman walked away from her religious upbringing because her God could not be that cruel and found her heart in a different path.  I am no longer that woman.  She has been healed.  She has grown up.

I am no longer that 31 year old woman that has a 2 year old son and is going through another divorce because when our daughter died we quit talking.  I am no longer that woman who still loves her husband but can no longer communicate with him.  The anger to great.  The grief to deep.  I am no longer that woman.  She has been healed.  She has grown up.

I am no longer that 36 year woman who married a man who didn’t know how to love. I am no longer that woman who came into money, trusted the wrong people, had her marriage fall apart and him take all that was left leaving her desolate with a 7 year old.  She has healed.  She has grown up.

I am no longer that 42 year old woman who has just remarried her best friend.  It was different this time.  There was love, understanding, kindness, acceptance.  She had her everything back and life was good, for a change.  Her healing had brought her love again.  Her growing up had brought a new dimension to life.

All of these women were a part of this lifetime, yet, each feels like a lifetime ago. Each brought their own trials, their own lessons, their own healing. Each feel like they are different women, looking through different eyes.  I understand that they are all phases of one lifetime but they all feel like different lifetimes.

So who am I?  I am the culmination of all of these women.  I carry their hurt, their victories, their lessons within me.  I am now a woman that has lived many lifetimes in one lifetime.  I am now a 51 (soon to be 52) year old woman who has once again lost her best friend.  He died this time so there is no going back.  I am a woman who has climbed many mountains, suffered many losses and yet here I am still standing.  I am a woman who is learning what letting go means.  I have let go of all of these women and now I am letting go of the life I once had.

A life filled with love.  A life filled with understanding.  A life filled with acceptance of who I am, no questions asked.  A life filled with happiness and laughter.  Now I start anew.  Now I look to the future and I know that the only way to move forward is to let go.

Abandonment and rejection are two of the hardest lessons to accept for me. It seems that every man I have ever truly loved has abandoned me on one level or another.  Either physically or emotionally.  It all hurts the same.  I am working on letting it go but it has not been easy.

Now I am letting go of my life.  The treasures of the home I shared with a husband that adored me.  The life we had together.  It is gone.  A new me is being born and a year from now I will no longer be this woman.  She will be gone.  She will be healed. I am letting everything go including the woman I am today.  I am excited to see who I become.  The journey is filled with beauty and I know that these hurts, these lessons, will soon be a part of the woman I will be.

Letting go means we are healing or we have healed.  We no longer need to hold onto the things we own, the person we believe we are, to be whole.  We allow ourselves to just “be” and right now, this is what I am striving for, learning to just “be.” No expectations, no set in stone plans, just going and finding the beauty and the amazing life that awaits me.

In Her Service,

Sage

Dreaming Again

When hope dies.  When your dreams are destroyed.  What do you do?

A year ago today I saw all of my hopes and dreams die a painful death in a matter of moments.  “No, you are not strong enough to continue chemo.  There is no other treatment.”

Those simple words set me on a journey that literally changed my life.  They weren’t spoken to me, although I was in the room when they were spoken, ultimately they turned my world upside down.

There were dreams to travel.  There were dreams to grow old together.  There were hopes of healing.  The fight was not so long but it felt like an eternity.

The future was no longer “together.”  There would be no future.  We were now living for “moments.”  We were no longer planning for next week, month or year. Instead we were living and dying in each moment of now.

Over the years I have become very familiar with death.  In an up close and personal way.  So many of my friends have left this earth way to soon.  Joey, Grant, John, Reggie, Tony, all to young to die, all gone.  Then there is family, Marvin, Lonnie, Doris, Jesse, Rick, my Dad.  All gone in just a few years.  Death came and they were gone, forever.

All of them hold a special place in my heart.  All of them touched my life in a beautiful, positive way.  Whether they were a part of my life for a short time or years on end, they made a difference by being here.

This time though it was up close and very personal.  This was affecting every little detail of my life.

I thought the world would end when my dad, my hero, died.  The closest I can come to describing the devastation I felt was to compare it to losing my only daughter.  Both of these deaths changed me.  Both tore my heart into pieces that would take years to pick up and heal.  Honestly, I am not sure all of the pieces have been picked up and healed yet.

This time was different.  This time I was losing my best friend, my love, the father to my son, my everything.  I found strength in places I never expected but there were moments when I was not sure I would survive this.

Not only was I losing the man I loved I was losing my way of life.  Nothing would ever be the same.  The hopes and dreams we had together were gone forever.

It is said that everyone grieves differently.  Maybe because the death of someone we love affects us all in different ways.  It is, many times, dependent on who that person was to you and how deeply they touched your life.

My belief is that when you are dealing with a long term illness you begin grieving when the diagnosis is given.  I know I did.  Every day from that moment to the very end, I grieved.

At first we held hope that surgery could be done.  That hope was lost quickly. Then we hoped that chemo would heal – all while it killed – that hope was lost after 2 months.  Then we hoped that alternative treatments would help.  They did in many ways, but unless you are willing to cut the ugliness out of your life there is only so much that can be healed.  He wasn’t willing and ultimately it cost him his life.

At first it was a matter of grieving the things we could no longer do.  We couldn’t just pick up and go anymore.  No more little day trips to our favorite places that we loved so much.  He was to weak and just didn’t have the energy to just go.

Then it was a matter of grieving the man I loved changing.  The man who sighed and rolled his eyes when something annoyed him.  The man who was quick witted and always had a smart ass retort to just about everything.  The man who laughed and smiled at the little, silly things in life.  The man who joked.  The man who loved music and sang.  That man was gone.  Oh, he had his moments until the very end but every day became more of a struggle and every day these attributes slipped away further and further into the ethers.

Towards the end it was a matter of grieving the things he was losing.  His ability to do things for himself.  His ability to have clear thoughts.  His ability to fight for his life.

Watching someone who prided themselves on the way they were able to help others need 24/7 help is difficult.  You can see them die inside every time you have to do the simple things for them.  They are no longer the helper but rather one receiving help and it is a role they have no time to adjust to.  It is humbling.

I grieved for all of the things he was going through. Dying robs you of any pride or dignity you might have while fully living.  Dying with grace is a feat many do not accomplish during a long term illness.  He did.  Each day he would lose the ability to do something else yet he handled it with grace.  That is not to say there was no frustration, there was, but ultimately, he would just let it go.  What beauty it is to watch surrender in motion.  It is a life lesson I intend to never forget.

Grieving is a long, tedious process.  In my world it began over a year ago.  Much has been healed and there is still much to heal.

Dancing with Death so up close and personal is yet another story to tell at a later date.

So what happens when all of your hopes and dreams are destroyed?  You keep breathing. You take time to heal. You trust your God/Goddess/Spirit, whatever you choose to call what you believe in, to lay a new path in front of you.  You do everything within your power to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  You keep your heart open. You learn. You hurt. You let go of the old and embrace the new. You love.  Before you realize it new hopes and dreams begin to come forward. You embrace them. You follow them. You live.

In Her Service,

Sage

The Rings

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There are days when you can feel your emotions right on the edge.  You know where every little thing threatens to make you cry or brings up an emotion you just weren’t expecting? Today was one of those days for me.

It started with me going through all of my altar stuff.  Dismantling your life is tedious and exhausting work.  It also brings back a ton of memories.  Looking at my altar stuff I found things that were given to me as gifts that I knew I couldn’t part with.  Other things I used as a representation for this or that.  They will mean nothing to anyone but me.  Trying to decide what to get rid of and what to keep is a feat in and of itself.

Then you add two young men who want things that meant something to you for their own altars.  In my previous post I talked about Cerridwen being the Goddess I work most with and on my altar for years I have kept a beautiful glass pig.  My son wanted her.  Then there was an owl for Bloudewedd that Kity wanted.  That doesn’t count the small minute things that each of them claimed as their own.  It is one of those things that you find very kind and sweet.  They want to keep you and your energy near them and at the same time it is difficult to let go of those things that have brought you so much comfort for so many years.

Emotions run high on both sides.  The receiver and the giver.  We all felt it.  It is a way of letting go and preparing for a future that we are all uncertain of but know is necessary. Trepidation, love, laughter and a few feelings of what is really going to happen once the reality sets in and this new beginning actually begins.

And then this happens…

I get ready to head upstairs and I stop at the end of my bed for a moment.  I look over and I see my wedding ring laying there next to Mike’s.  I know immediately what needs to be done.  I pick them up and head upstairs.

The memories come flooding back.  The first time we were married we went for simple gold rings.  The second time he bought me a beautiful Goddess ring and I bought him a celtic type weaved ring.  I ultimately couldn’t wear my ring because it would break my hands out so we opted to go back to the two simple gold rings we had originally.  I wore them for a while after he died, until I couldn’t anymore.  After so many years of wearing them all of a sudden my hand would break out in a terrible rash every time I wore them.  I finally figured that it was his way of telling me to let go and I took them off.  They have sat there together since.

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I am standing in the kitchen and I ask Jeremy to come in.  I had already given him the weaved ring a couple of months ago.  I try to make sure that he has things that meant something to his dad to hold onto.  They were so close and Mike’s death has been extremely hard for him.  He lost his best friend the day his dad died, he lost his dad way to young.  They had to many things left to do that will never happen now so the small things are most important now.

Into the kitchen he comes and I ask him to put his pinky finger out.  He does and I put both of our rings on his finger.  He looked at me kind of funny and I asked him if he knew what they were.  He didn’t.  I told him that they are our wedding rings and he immediately cried.  I cried.  Then we laughed.  He told me how small our hands were. The moment was beautiful and now we move on.

I keep telling myself that they are “just rings.” Yet, deep in my heart I know that they are more than “just rings,” they represent a friendship that was true and deep.  They represent a love that was unique and fulfilling.  They represent pain, loss, love, laughter and a life of happiness that ended way to soon.

To the outside eye they are “just rings” but to me they are filled with memories. My only wish now is that our son will make his own memories with them but never forget what they represent in his life.  A mother and a father who love him more than life itself.  Parents who loved and laughed together.  He can add his own memories to them and someday he can share them with his own family. For now, for me, they represent letting go and starting anew.  The memories are sweet, my heart is full and those rings are now our son’s.  The circle of life moves forward.  I am thankful.

Emergence

As I stated in my “about me” section I follow two paths, they intersect and I am integrating them, quite beautifully, together.  On one path I follow the path to Avalon through the Sisterhood of Avalon.  On the other I follow a shamanic path that is based on Peruvian/Andean teachings.  I can see their wheels together and they are very similar in many ways. One is sunwise and one is moonwise.  Yet both have the similar healing’s and although different symbols are used they take you to the same yet different places in your own sovereignty.

Right now, in the Sisterhood, we are working on the cycle of Emergence. Descent, Confrontation and now Emergence have all been intense for me this year.  Some days I have wondered if I would survive this cycle, emotionally.  I didn’t consciously work the cycle this time.  In fact, I quite consciously, decided to “take a break” because of all of the turmoil in my life.  The funny thing is though that when you walk this path there is no such thing as “taking a break.”

The cycle works whether you engage in it or not.  It is funny when you realize this.  When you can see that your Descent was one of the deepest and darkest you have incurred in all of the years you have walked this path.  When you can see that your Confrontation was brutal beyond words.  When you want to breathe a sigh of relief because you are coming into Emergence yet you know that it is far from over, there is still healing that needs to be done.  When you realize that the cycle is working you instead of you working it.  It is amazing.  It is beautiful.  It is heart wrenching.  It is painful.  It is worth it.

Integrating two paths together is extremely intense.  I was having a conversation last night with a beautiful soul that is interested in learning about Shamanism. One of the things I have learned walking both of these paths is that once you are called you cannot just walk away.  They take hold of you, they rule who you are becoming and they rule every little thing in your life at all times.  There is no walking away.  There is no choice to not engage.  You are here, you are doing the work and you are living the work no matter what you are doing in life.

It becomes a part of your being and you can run but you can’t hide.  Spirit rules. These paths are not for the faint of heart.  They are demanding.  They are fulfilling. They are exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.  They are why you wake up in the morning and know that somehow, some way, you are standing in your sovereignty, yet, your life is not your own.

What do I mean by “your life is not your own?” Here is the thing, when you start walking either of these paths you have been called.  There is no saying no.  I guess you could just walk away but you will always have that yearning and Spirit will always bring you right back to where you are being called to, no matter where else you look or what else you choose to study.

When you first start out in the Sisterhood you begin by learning the Holy Days, you integrate them.  Then you go on and learn the landscape in which your soul walks.  Lastly, you begin working with the Goddesses of the path.  In this particular path you get to know Rhiannon, Cerridwen, Bloudewedd, Arianrhod and Branwen.

During this work you will have connections.  One holy day will usually become your favorite.  One piece of the landscape will call your name no matter where you live.  One Goddess will resonate louder than the others.  For me the Goddess who chose me was Cerridwen.  She can be one of the most difficult Goddesses to please, yet, She is also one of the most giving and loving Goddesses I have ever worked with.  Of course this is just my view and experience. Other Sisters may see it differently. That is the beauty of this path, everything is based on your own perspective. Your personal experiences are validated by your work and most often others have experienced similar things at the same time.

When I started my Shamans training I was taught about the animal symbols and what they represented.  In my path it is Snake, Jaguar, Hummingbird, Condor/Eagle.  The Sun God Inti Tayta, The Earth Goddess Pachamama.  I can say that much of my training was working with these entities as well as learning the tools to heal.  Much like the Sisterhood your perspective begins to change when you develop a personal connection with all of these beings. Life becomes more beautiful yet it also becomes more challenging. Especially when you do not follow where you are led.

As I said earlier, right now in the Sisterhood we are working through Emergence. The equivalent to this in my Peruvian path is the Hummingbird.  The Hummingbird brings you the sweet nectar of life.

Emergence is when you begin to come out of the darkness and can look back at the healing that has occurred.  The issues you have faced and the changes within that have occurred.  It gives you a chance to see the shift in your perspective.  It allows you to look in the mirror and see the woman you now are while seeing the woman you were. You allow yourself to acknowledge that you may not have healed all of you but you healed some of the layers that needed it.

You know that there is more.  You know that the next cycle will bring forth more healing, but for now, in this moment, the pain is not so intense, the anger is not so engulfing, the hurt is not so overwhelming and you have changed.  It is a good thing.  Your life is yours and you have healed, even if it isn’t completely healed, it is complete. You can enjoy the sweet nectar of life with the you that you have become by allowing yourself to be alright with where you are at this moment in time.

Emergence allows you to step into your sovereignty and be the woman that you are suppose to be.  When you are aware that you have survived and you are stronger for it. Your perspective has changed because you have changed. You know that life is good.  You can stand in your truth.  Live unapologetically.

As Emergence takes hold in my life I know that I stand firm.  I know that whether I truly decide to engage or not Spirit is working within and without.  I know that life is changing and I am working on embracing those changes.  Never discount the beauty of the path you walk.  When you embrace it you emerge a new person, changed forever but changed for the better.  Life is beautiful, now go live it.

In Her Service,

Sage

 

The Choice

Do you ever have so much going through your head that you just don’t know where to start or what to think about first?  That is me right now.  I go from pure fear to complete and unhindered joy in a matter of milliseconds.  This has been going on since Christmas.  One moment I am frozen in fear and the next my heart soars beyond your wildest imagination.

Let me go back a bit.  My son, Jeremy, is a pretty awesome young man and so are his friends.  Most of his friends call me “mom,” something I feel is a true blessing in my life.  I cherish each and every one of them.  They light up my world on a regular basis and the blessings they bestow on me are more than I can ever give back.

However, Jeremy is not my only son.  I have three older sons from my first marriage.  The story isn’t pretty, actually it is pretty ugly from my point of view but it is done and I can’t go back and change all that has happened.  The pain surrounding all of this is horrendous.  We have survived.  Not without scars and pain but nonetheless we have survived.

I did not receive the blessing of raising my three oldest sons.  In fact, for the most part they are not an integral part of my life.  I have prayed every day that “someday” these relationships will be healed and we can build strong, healthy relationships.  I have held onto that thought for many years, even when believing and hoping for it caused extreme pain.  They are all men now, with families of their own.  There has never been a day that they were not in my thoughts.  There has never been a day that I did not hold them tightly in my heart.  There has never been a day that I did not love them and want them in my life.  There have been days of utter despair.  There have been holidays that I would just rather forget exist because they were not a part of my life.  Yet, I kept putting one foot in front of the other, holding onto hope.

My son, Jeremy, has known about his brothers every day of his life.  He has lived with a mother who faces her pain daily.  He has seen the hurt and yet he has also felt the love.  I am sure in some ways he has also had to deal with his own pain regarding this whole situation because he knows he has three brothers and yet they are not a part of his life.  He lives as an only child.  I believe in many ways this is why his friends are so very important to him.  They give him that sense of belonging that he doesn’t have with his own siblings.

I am not telling you all of this for sympathy.  It is to explain where the fear and joy come from that I spoke of earlier.  If you don’t have a bit of background you can’t truly understand the magnitude of what is happening this week.

From my three oldest sons I have 7 grandchildren.  Out of those 7 grandchildren I have met 2.  I have been gifted a beautiful relationship with my two granddaughters and their mother.  This is something that I cherish more than words can possibly describe.  They have been a bright shining light in my life now for close to eight years.  They live in Minnesota so I do not get to see them often enough but I value every single moment I get to spend with them, talk to them or even see their beautiful faces in pictures.

My second son lives in Florida.  He has my first born grandchild (my grandson) and a daughter.  His wife is a friend on my facebook so I have gotten to watch them grow up through the pictures she posts.  I have never met them.  My grandson will be 11 next month.  I have been told that he was born on my birthday, how awesome is that?

I have sporadic interaction with my second son.  There will be times when all of a sudden I get a phone call telling me he is in California and let’s have dinner.  There are times I will get a text just to check in.  When my husband died he was the only one to pick the phone up and tell me how sorry he was.  He had met my husband a couple of times and they truly liked each other.

Let me be very clear here, I am thankful for every single moment I have communication with him in any form!  I adore him.  He is my son.  I love him more than words can say. I am thankful and am blessed whenever he chooses to be in my world.  It is something I long for more of but am happy just to know that there is a line of communication, any communication.

Back to the pictures my daughter in law posts.  Several months back she posted pictures of my grandson playing hockey.  Just about anyone who knows me knows that my all time favorite sport is hockey.  If you didn’t know that you do now.  I love it! My favorite team is the L.A. Kings but I will watch any hockey, any time and be happy.  I just love it.  Anyway, the pictures of my grandson playing hockey made me stop in my tracks.  I looked at Jeremy and said “look at your nephew!”

I told him how sad it made me that my grandson was playing my favorite game and I would never get to see it happen.  I actually stood there and cried for a moment. I work hard to acknowledge the pains of life, feel them and then let them go.  Sometimes it is easier than others.  In this instance I just carried a dream for a few moments and then decided it would probably never happen so I didn’t need to focus on what I couldn’t have, instead I chose to love the pictures and the little boy in them.

Several months later I was facing my least favorite holiday, Christmas.  With the history above I am sure you can kind of understand why Christmas is my least favorite holiday and this year was going to be harder than usual because it was going to be the first one without my husband. Another difficult hurdle to get over.  I just wasn’t looking forward to it.  I kept looking for anything I could be thankful for just to get me through.  I was thankful that I was going to get to spend the day with mom and brother as well as a couple of my nephews and of course with my son.  They were going to get me through and I was going to find a way to smile.

I didn’t really need to stress over it.  Several things happened this holiday that have literally and figuratively changed the course of my life.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention again the lost love that I found a day or two before Christmas.  He brought hope, dreams and made me feel great even if it wasn’t what it seemed it would be at the time.

More importantly, the most amazing thing happened this Christmas.  Jeremy apparently paid great attention to my words about my grandson playing hockey.  Come Christmas eve he was driving me crazy to open my gift.  I refused.  I would wait until Christmas morning.  I did.  He woke me up early.  Handed me my gift and told me to open it.

When I opened it there was a card.  In the card were all of my son’s friends names that call me “mom” as well as my son’s name.  Inside the card there was a round trip ticket to Florida.  I didn’t understand.  I asked Jeremy “What’s in Florida?”  I will never forget his words “You are going to watch your grandson play hockey.” To say that I was overwhelmed is the understatement of the century.  I just couldn’t imagine that this was really going to happen.  I had longed and wished for it so many times but I never dreamed it would happen.  All I could do was sit and cry.

All of these young men and women had pitched in to make this happen.  Jeremy had called his brother to find out if it was alright and he said YES!  There are so many beautiful things in this that finding the words to them is overwhelming.  It still makes me cry.  The absolute unhindered, selfless love that went into all of this just fills me from head to toe in ways that I just can’t describe.

The last few months Jeremy has asked me several times if I am excited.  I just keep trying to digest it all, seriously.  Well here we are.  In 3 days I will be getting on an airplane (first time in about 16 years) and flying to Florida.  I will get off of that plane and get to meet my grandson and granddaughter for the first time.  I will also get to watch my grandson play hockey.

So back to the beginning, on the one hand this brings me a deep, all encompassing fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of being human.  Yet in a millisecond that complete fear turns into complete and unhindered joy!  My heart soars with hope of what could be, what it will feel like to hug my son, daughter in law and my beautiful grandchildren.  Pure joy sings loudly when I think of getting to spend several days with them.  Fear and joy are two extremes that seem to be a large part of my life lately, yet somehow, the joy continues to win.  Somehow this journey we call life is both bittersweet and sweet at the same time.  Joy, it is something we all need to get more comfortable with feeling and let it overcome the fears we face in our human lives.  Joy is what Spirit brings when we allow the love to flow through us.  I choose joy.