Saturday, July 19, 2014

Guilt...



I'm a part of a wonderful community of fellow widows and widowers and I can't fully describe the heartache I feel when I listen to their various stories and experiences.  Tragic loss, lives altered immeasurably, children who are suddenly father or motherless.  Trying to cope and adjust, were those the only two things to work through, would be challenge enough on their own.  But income is often dead stopped, homes lost, family members/in-laws who want to affix blame, the personal thoughts that can haunt; what could I have done differently, what if I would have kissed him goodbye that morning, why didn't we go to the doctor sooner, did I do all I could to give proper care, oh, if I could just re-do that cold, snowy day when I encouraged him to go to work because money was so tight, he wouldn't have slid off that cliff...  And more...

Guilt....

Where does it come from, why does it stay, is there any good to the feelings it stirs?

No matter what the circumstances, we all fall short, we all wish we could have a "do over" to try and alter outcomes... In my own case, I have long said, "We had great numbers, we beat the odds, and got more time than most anyone in our situation, and yet, sometimes I wonder, "Was there more I could have done?"  Do my kids and grandkids wonder if I was kind enough, did I serve Val with deep love or just husbandly care?  I'm about like most of those in this strange land of widowdom, where I have doubts, I question my strength and I wonder "Did I fall let Val down?"  

Well, I will tell you a few things that I have come to know... 1) Even in one's grief where you feel the comfort of angels and that the next life is very near, the darkness of the destroyer bears down on you to try and make you feel inadequate and that you failed.  2) Losing your spouse is someone's child, someone's sibling, someone's grandparent, someone's friend and people have their own perspectives and opinions.  Sometimes their feelings are manifest in sweet and gentle behaviors and outreaches of love, other times people are so stunned, they react and assign blame.  3) Your life and that of your children and grandchildren is now forever changed.  No matter the age, no one wants to lose someone who is so special to them.  Reconciling those awful feelings is daunting and sometimes peace is a elusive.  4) Time is your enemy and your friend.  It's your friend because as you hobble through the abyss of it all, inch by inch, minute by minute, you start to heal and "feel" again... It's not the same as before, it will never be the same as before, but you can breath, you do breath, you learn to accept the world as a different place.  And what's weird is everything is nature is the exact same.  The sun comes up in the east and it goes down in the west.  "The sun will rise another day..." As the song "Long Road" by Pearl Jam goes...  Time is your enemy because it wants to remind you that because things are so vastly different now, you're over, you're done, you're irrelevant, there's nothing that matters.  Food has lost its savor.  Ice cream is no longer cold and refreshing.  Things you never used to let slide, have not only slid, they're now an avalanche of many things you couldn't grip and keep in your clutches if you wanted to.

And the fungus that grows out of all this is "Guilt"...  

Loved ones can begin to self medicate, or if they have substance abuse issues, it will likely deepen.  Some begun saying hurtful things to cope with their hurt.  Some people disappear.  Some shut down.  Some stop eating.  Some increase their eating.  Some quit being available and "alive" in their formal normal life.  All here things and more grow out of guilt and the inability to get through (not over, you never get over) the loss, sorrow, grief and hardship of losing your spouse...  I'm like everyone else in all this...  I grapple... I wonder...  I don't sleep... And I'm one of the luckiest guys I know...  Val and I had a beautiful long goodbye... She beat the dates and assumed mortality percentages... Yet, she is still gone...  "Oh this poison called guilt.

I feel uptight when I walk in the city

I feel so cold when I'm at home
Feels like everything's starting to hit me
I lost my bearings ten minutes ago

Modern guilt, I'm stranded with nothing

Modern guilt, I'm under lock and key
Misapprehension
Is turning into convention
Don't know what I've done but I feel ashamed

Standing outside the glass on the sidewalk

These people talk about impossible things
And I'm falling out of the conversation
And I'm a pawn piece in a human shield

Modern guilt is all in our hands

Modern guilt won't get me to bed
Say what you will
Smoke your last cigarette
Don't know what I've done but I feel afraid

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sweet Love... Deep Grief... Dancing With A Limp...


There is something quite phenomenal that billions and billons of people have experienced, yet, we don't talk about it much and we certainly don't have a cook book with recipes how to understand it, yet sooner or later it is a reality that we all face...  Grief...  I have undertaken a serious study of grief...  I want to embrace it and have it be my friend...  When I hear the cliches about grief, they are usually said by people who haven't experienced the hardest kind...  Imagine that... levels of grief, severity of grief...  For you see grief is a journey, often without a destination...  like all journeys, none are exactly the same...   It is often perilous, you have no compass, no sense of direction yet, you are moving...  Even when you are in bed, with the shades drawn, the phone off, deep in your covers...  You are moving...



I know what its like to "take it like a man" and attempt to push through it...  Like the football player I once was, I decided I could just add another 25 lbs to my bar bell and lift...  Same with my desire to tackle grief...  Just lift all that much harder, lift more...  Yet, I discovered its not something you can control, hurry past, nor can you ignore it...  Grief is gnawing...  Grief is patient, it has no where to go but to reside in you...  It is not contagious (I wonder what it would be like if you could give it away like a cold and have the virus leave you?) and its a different thing for everybody...  Sometimes people let it own them, their grief overcomes who they once were and changes everything...  It can lay you outward... Where bitterness can claim you, innner sympathies can whisper into your mind that you are alone, you cannot ever understand this, you have failed... Its the most persistent thing we will ever have in our lives, because to some degree it will never go away once it has come to call...  It can ruin you, it can "make" you, its full of opposites and dichotomies, though it is a process of saying farewell to someone you love, you are also saying hello to an experience that deserves honor and respect...



There are real manifestations of grief...  They come in the form of feelings that you actually have, such as emotions, there are physical sensations, there is the mental and cognitive pieces and you have changes that affect your personality and behavior...  I seem to have gotten more funny...  Or so some say...  Kind, wise friends have said, "Dan you are hiding in your humor."  Which, I have done throughout my entire life, by the way...  Maybe later I will write about and identify specifics of each of the ways grief rolls on over us, but tonight I want to leave you with this thought...



While everything in life, whatever you do, choices you make, events that come without warning and push you to your limits, each of all of our journeys begin with a single step...  Usually, that ice breaking first step is the hardest, the most difficult...  When you are being blown down, when the gale force winds are making you grasp onto life's railing, there is a major gift that you can know that when you hold onto it, you are firmly safe and the railing is keeping you...  That gift is "Hope"...  Just what do you hope for?  That varies of course, but it is something to get us up in the morning, face the day, much of this is not something you can decide what to do, with a pragmatic plan (Remember my comment about football and pushing through) do much more than just function; eat, sleep, deal with the giant octopus of emotions that seems to constantly swim after you...  But with hope, you can "be" able to live, love, emerge at some point...  Its a difficult passage, especially when someone like Val is who has gone away from me...  (You know there's a few people who I really wish would go away! :)  But you know, I have met difficult challenges in the past, I've had dark moments and I have met and climbed those rocks of life with "HOPE"...  Seems like a good idea to keep that perspective now...  Sweet love, brings deep grief, and....

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
― Anne Lamott



Friday, July 11, 2014

Butterflys, They Always Fly Away...


Its July, its warm, its the kind of weather that we who live in the Pacific NW wait all year for...  And, my house is quiet, my backyard is empty, I can only find one of the turtles, I don't know why there is this blanket of contemplation surrounding me is causing me to reflect so much...  Usually the summer is a time for carefree thinking, feeling the sun kiss our cheeks, tasting the luscious summer treats like watermelon, popsicles, ice cream... and yet, this summer, I feel differently...

Last summer I was engulfed in sorrow...  a sadness that was heavy and difficult...

This summer, I feel lost and I am quiet, contemplative, not sure of what is next...  I am busying myself in my work, I am trying to be thoughtful and considerate about others around me who may feel lost, alone or empty themselves...  I look at the world's troubles and feel a heaviness about the greed, the anger, the lack of humanity...  but this is something more, deeper within me...


10 years ago right now, summertime, Val was in the middle of her Chemo treatments... I would cook for her and we would eat every meal outside...  Absorbing the beauty around us and the many blessings we held in our family, our life and with our hopes for her full recovery.  Which, she did receive...


Scout was always "at the ready" for a handful of table scraps...  she was such a great dog.  Val giving her to me for Christmas in 1996, was the true show of love toward me...  She did NOT want a big dog in the family...  But Val knew I wanted one, so she sacrificed herself to make me happy...

I can easily say, Val was always on my side...  She remains so even today...  I am blessed with her nudges from time to time...  Its funny...  there are moments when I can see things so clearly and happily and then in a nano second, I have to reach deep...  When I do, she is always there; a memory, I find a small note, a trinket or sign from her  that everything is going to be okay...

Always On Your Side

My yesterdays are all boxed up and neatly put away
But every now and then you come to mind
'Cause you were always waiting to be picked to play the game
But when your name was called, you found a place to hide
When you knew that I was always on your side.

Well everything was easy then, so sweet and innocent
My demons and my angels reappeared
Leavin' only traces of the man you thought I'd be
Too afraid to hear the words I'd always feared
Leavin' you with so many questions all these years.

Is there some place far away, some place where all is clear
Easy to start over with the ones you hold so dear
Or are you left to wander, all alone, eternally
This isn't how it's really meant to be
No, it isn't how it's really meant to be.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pondering and Wandering....


Is your mind like mine?  Do you find yourself thinking about people, places, memories that are somehow electrically connected to your heart?  Do you skip a beat or feel your heart flutter when someone crosses your mind that you forgot that you loved or cared about?  Perhaps a childhood memory of Christmas morning or the first crush you had when you were in Jr High School?  Do you recall your delight when you heard the rumor that "so and so" liked you?

Its no wonder why we feel such loss when life changes on us...  I recall leaving Lubbock, Texas, watching it disappear behind our station wagon as we headed to Nevada.  It was also exciting, because we were going on "summer vacation" for over a whole month!  Well, my dad's transfer changed to Washington state, which I knew nothing about.  We also had two dogs, Heidi and Freda, with us and one got sick in Salt Lake City and she had to be put to sleep.  I was sad, but not nearly as sad as when 2 years later Heidi was run over by a car.  I sobbed for a week, with my head in my mom's lap.  I just did not, could not, understand why?


(Midgey and Scout...  Scout went away in 2009...  Sure miss her)

Today I read that the word "Mortality" literally means "death", for when Adam and Eve fell, they fell to mortality and died a "spiritual death" or they no longer were able to be in the presence of God.  It is also synonymous with "life".  Life on earth, with all the various conditions that came with it.  Disease, fear, troubles, peril, injury...  We became subject to pain.  The good news is that one day all of us will become immortal.  We will all be resurrected.  We will all gain immortality.  What only some of us will receive though is eternal life, exaltation.  For that is God's work and His glory to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.  Being exhalted means being in the presence of God for all eternity.

As I walk each day I notice a difference in so many things.  How limbs grow out of a tree.  How animals seem to be keenly aware of their own survival instincts.  How out of touch we all are, our heads bent down, tapping away on your phones; texting, doing a yelp search, checking emails and generally snubbing the people around us.  As I was wandering around today, I noticed how intensely "busy" we all are.  Not just others, me included.  I have a desire to be more "minimal" in my living patterns.  Less water, less waste, more efficiencies.  Why, I wonder?  Why now?  Is it because I am alone and feel less about leaving a big splash?  Perhaps.  But I feel a sense of accountability in ways that are meaningful and I suppose it because I am less distracted.



My day is continually filled with sadness on so many levels.  Turn on the news, the world is a horror story.  People who matter to me are leaving, changing, going away.  Life is all about change...

Yet...  I cannot hold back the sands of time...  All things have reason to be subject to "change"...  If you would have told me in 1972, that 42 years later I would be a widower, an orphan (my parents are both gone) and that my world would be darn near a zero sum game, I would not have believed you.  Zero sum...  That principle that all sides of gain must be matched by as many sides of loss... I guess you could say that the "Circle of Life" is a real thing...



What do you do with the sands of time
When they carve out lines around your eyes
I can close my fists up good and tight
But I can't hold back the sands of time

What do you do with a memory
That just hangs around and stares at me
I can tear that frame down off the wall
But it won't erase the things I saw

Night and day
Night and day
You remain
You remain

What do you do with old regrets
There's a box full underneath the bed
Just close enough not to forget
But do what do you do with old regrets

There's old house key in a kitchen drawer
To the door I can't unlock no more
Sometimes I hold that key real tight
But what do you do after goodbye

Night and day
Night and day
You remain
You remain

Night and day
Night and day
You remain
You remain

Monday, July 7, 2014

These Are The Days... Now...


I don't know why I struggle so...
I don't know why my skin feels prickly and hot...
I don't know why she had to go...
I thought I was stronger than this...
turns out I'm not...

At death, which from accounts I have been reading is an instantaneous passing, we enter into a postmortal spirit world.  There we undergo a partial judgement after which our spirit goes to either spirit prison or paradise.  Those in spirit prison are there to repent, change, be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Those who are faithful in paradise are empowered to bridge the gulf between paradise and spirit prison, for Jesus Christ is a pure resurrected being and He can not tolerate sin, such as he did when he was in mortality, as a human. He is (and was) God, along with the Father.  I am quite certain that Val is a among those who are purified in spirit and that she has been called to serve and teach those who prepared, cultivated for their own salvation.

I also know that while is has been 463 days since she went away, on the scale of eternity and using a measurement of 1,000 mortal years equals 1 day in God's time, if my calculator is working properly (as is my mind, which could be doubtful) I estimate that Val as only been gone away, as of today, for 7.2 minutes of ALL eternity!  So if I live another 30 years, it means that she and I will be separated a mere 1 hour and 9 minutes.  Sadly, those are mortal thoughts I have to make myself feel better.  Some days it helps, other days, that little "head foolery" hardly gives me any comfort.

Which gnaws at me...  Am I just waiting to die?  Somehow I think life isn't to be stalled out for us, I don't think we sit on third base and wait for a grand slam.  I actually think (in my head, intellectually) that I should pay attention to the baseball game I am in, and be prepared to run on a bunt, a dropped third strike and of course on any hit!  But why is my heart not in sync with my head?  My heart wants me to sit still, let the sorrow wash over me.  And that's ok on some days, but really, I would be pretty embarrassed to pass through the veil when I am 90 and for Val to say to me, "Howcome all you did was sit around and wait?  Wasn't there something more you could have done?"  You see, Val was a great cheerleader my whole life, its why I fell in love with her.  She told me who I was, even when she knew I didn't want to hear it and I certainly didn't want to face my warts!  Oh please, I am not telling you she was Miss Bossy Pants, noooo, far from "that".  But she was encouraging and she didn't deploy passive aggression or moods to get my attention.  Plus, I could always make her laugh and tease her out of so many things she was telling me anyway!

(This picture was on the Saturday before Easter 2013, Val is surrounded by our grandkids and she is holding some baby chicks my son got for all the kids for Easter...  Val was like Dr. Doolittle when it came to animals and creatures... 13 days later, Val went away.)

So now what?  It runs through my mind every day, all day...  I'm working more, I am getting healthy (I've lost 78 lbs since Val went away and I have a goal to lose 100 more!  Why not look like the 3rd grader I am inside my head, right?)  So, I have made categories of things I want to do, what changes I want to make in my life and how I can be a friend and of service throughout the days God wills that I live in this mortal life.  Lots to do!  If I picque your interest, or you have ideas to help me, shoot me an email.  I am all ears!


These are the days of the endless summer
These are the days, the time is now
There is no past, there's only future
There's only here, there's only now

Oh your smiling face, your gracious presence
The fires of spring are kindling bright
Oh the radiant heart and the song of glory
Crying freedom in the night

These are the days by the sparkling river
His timely grace and our treasured find
This is the love of the one magician
Turned the water into wine

These are days of the endless dancing and the
Long walks on the summer night
These are the days of the true romancing
When I'm holding you oh, so tight

These are the days by the sparkling river
His timely grace and our treasured find
This is the love of the one great magician
Turned water into wine

These are the days now that we must savour
And we must enjoy as we can
These are the days that will last forever
You've got to hold them in your heart.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mo, July Thoughts...


Yesterday was the 4th of July... I was flooded with so many feelings and thoughts, by the end of the evening for me, which was before dark, I was spent...

I love the 4th!  It was always a wonderful holiday when I was a kid...  My folks were very patriotic and we celebrated in great fashion!  My dad is from Mayflower ancestry, his roots on his father's side are deeply embedded in the Colonies of New England.  My dad was (is still I am sure) a solid great patriot of our country...  He was a WWII veteran of the Navy, he spent his life's work in the FBI sustaining and defending the US Constitution, which his ancestor, Roger Sherman signed...  My dad loved our country...

[NOTE:  In the Mormon church the first Sunday of each month is called "Fast Sunday".  Beginning after dinner on Saturday, until dinner on Sunday, faithful Mormons fast, essentially two meals, for 24 hours.  Except for taking the Sacrament (Emblems of Christ that some in other religions call "Communion")  in church on Sunday, Mormons go without food and water (unless of course there are health reasons that prevent someone from doing so) and the money that would have been spent on food during that 24 hour period is donated to the church for use in caring for those in need.  These donations are called Fast Offerings, which is different from Tithing.  On this first Sunday, during the main church meeting, we call Sacrament meeting, it can also be referenced as "Fast Meeting" because members come during this Fasting period.  But what is very special about this monthly service is that members of the Church, as prompted by the Holy Ghost will come forward to the podium and "Bear Testimony" of Jesus Christ, the divinity of the Church, it's teachings and of it's prophets.]

My dad would always bear his testimony on the Fast Sunday near the 4th of July.  He was the great reminder of God's hand in bringing about the Constituion of the USA, its Founding Fathers and the divine purpose of Freedom and Liberty...  I miss very badly his remarks and testimony...  Which by the way, have led me to my knowledge and belief that life in this mortal, human experience is not happen stance or a big bingo game that God is playing...  All matters, events, people, are known by God, and woven together in His amazing plan of salvation for each of us, His children...  So tomorrow as I sit in church, I will think about my dad, my mom's love and partnership with him, and what great lessons my dad taught me the 56 years I was in this life with him as my friend, my teacher and my father...  Once a lady at church said to me, "Dan, if you can be a quarter of the man your dad is, you will be some guy!"  She was right!  (dad and mom, 1965)



But....

Life goes on...  New celebrations, change, hardship and refinements are constants in our lives...  As I think of how much my folks mean to me...  Just this past Tuesday, July 1, our family welcomed a new chicklette into our life!  Ramona Elise Moomat Dyer... Our "Mo" was born about 10:15pm Mtn time in Orem, UT, weighing 7 lbs and 15 ozs, and measuring 19 1/2 inches long, this beautiful baby girl stole all of the Dyers and Munoas (and those who know us, and have seen pcitures of this baby girl) HEARTS!  Her nick name is "Mo" which I think is perfect for her!  She is peaceful and full of grace...  When I held her and looked into her eyes, I saw a very old and wise soulful girl...  One who loves the Lord and had many things she wanted to say to me...  Probably most of all, "Boo Boo, I was just with Ganah and everything is Ok..."



Yesterday was hard for me...  It was a melancholy day...  Not fully, but enough to bring feelings of my being on an emotional roller coaster...  I was happy, mostly, but also feel like so many things around me are changing way, way too fast...  I hate change...  I am anything but indifferent to it...  I am passionate about NOT changing...  Which is probably one of my life's biggest "tests" so I will be here a very long time coming to an understanding of "change" and also, learning how it is for my good...  Releasing the inner me to understand and deal with "what will be" is soooooooooo darn hard!



But, now, its July 5th...  Mo is 4 days old...  4 days!?  How can that be?  How is it that her older brother is 3 years old?  How is it that Val went away 14 months 23 days ago?  And please tell me how it is that cancer has been something I have had to come to understand as one of my life's greatest blessings for 10 years, 37 days now?  Time is one thing that I am fast learning slows for no one and while the days seem to drag on while I watch the clock, they do not drag on without purpose or speed of urgency for letting life polish my soul... 

The house is still and quiet, the back yard is empty and another summer day is slipping toward what will become of it...  I am so grateful to a loving Father in Heaven and for His glorified purpose in saving a soul so rebellious as mine...